Anastasiades Defends Cyprus Talks

NICOSIA – Cyprus’ President has moved to ease fears that his handling of renewed peace talks with breakaway Turkish Cypriots would scuttle chances for a fair reunification accord.

Nicos Anastasiades held a nationally televised news conference to defend a document he agreed to with Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu that paved the way for the resumption of peace talks a day earlier.

The document outlines key principles for an envisioned federation. Anastasiades rebuffed critics who decry the document as implying separate Turkish Cypriot statehood — something that would undermine a reunified state. Cyprus was split in 1974 when Turkey invaded after a coup aiming to unite the island with Greece.

Anastasiades said many countries are now keen to see a peace accord because of Cyprus’ new-found offshore gas deposits.

The Greek Cypriot side has “completely achieved” its objectives through the common declaration, that has been agreed on with the Turkish Cypriot side, Anastasiades said after peppered by questions from reporters.

“I had stated that in order to engage in a dialogue, the basic principles that constitute the components of every internationally recognized state, needed to be clarified” he said, referring to the agreement to securing for the future unified state a single sovereignty, international personality and citizenship.

Critics have already jumped in that the basis for the talks are skewed with contradictions and would be a power-sharing deal with invaders who still unlawfully occupy the northern third of the island.

Anastasiades said he would not comment on any comments from Eroglu, a hardliner whose provocative statements and line-in-the-stand negotiating style so frustrated Anastasiades’ predecessor, Communist leader Demetris Christofias, that he decided not to run for re-election.

He reiterated that the future state will be a continuation of the existing Republic of Cyprus, with the common declaration acknowledging that the United Cyprus will be a UN and EU member in which Turkish Cypriots will share. Right now, only Turkey recognizes what it has declared as a Republic in the lands it unlawfully occupies and will continue to do so under the blueprint laid out by the two sides.

Anastasiades said that the text notes down that negotiations will be held between the two communities of Cyprus and not between two existing sovereign states, as Eroglu is maintaining with the Turkish side moving to declare its territory is already a country.

Cyprus is a member of the EU and Turkey is seeking to join the bloc but has declared Cyprus isn’t a country and will not allow its ships and planes to enter Turkey.

Anastasiades said that no pledges were made in return to open new chapters in Turkey’s EU accession negotiations. Nicosia is retaining its objections for new chapters, until Ankara meets its obligations, that is the implementation of the Ankara Protocol, the President said.

He said that Greece will have a supportive counseling role, noting in parallel that it is not Greece that occupies Cyprus, but Turkey.

He referred finally to the exchange of visits, the negotiators of the two sides are expected to have soon in Athens and Ankara respectively, noting that this was a permanent position of the Greek Cypriot side to be able to talk with Turkey.

(Material from the Associated Press was used in this report)