NICOSIA – Backpedaling after talks with his Turkish-Cypriot counterpart Mustafa Akinci to reunify Cyprus fell apart, Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades said it was Turkey’s fault, not his.
The two met at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana in Switzerland in July, joined by United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, then-UN Special Envoy Espen Barth Eide and officials from the country’s guarantors of security, Turkey, Greece and the United Kingdom, the former Colonial ruler which still has a military base there.
The talks collapsed when Turkey, which occupied the northern third of the island in an unlawful 1974 invasion, refused to completely remove a standing 35,000-strong army and offered only to reduce it to 1800 over some years but in a timetable it would decide and while demanding the right to militarily intervene when it deemed it necessary.
That was too much even for Anastasiades, who reportedly was willing to agree to let a Turkish-Cypriot be President every other term, a concession hard to swallow for Cypriot hardliners and nationalists.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan still refuses to recognize Cyprus and bars its ships and planes even though he wants his country to become a member of the European Union, to which the legitimate side of the island already belongs. Only Turkey recognizes its occupied territory.
Anastasiades said Turkey had not been willing to turn words into actions during the last stages of the Swiss negotiations, the Cyprus Mail reported.
Anastasiades, besieged by criticism since the talks broke down on July 6, was speaking during a ceremony at the Presidential palace to receive the credentials of the new German ambassador Franz Josef Kremp.
“We deeply regret that Turkey’s unwillingness to negotiate within the framework set by the UN Secretary-General, and in particular Turkey’s intransigent stance on the key chapters of security and guarantees, and its insistence on maintaining guarantees, troops and intervention rights in reunited Cyprus, did not allow for positive outcome during the Conference on Cyprus in Crans Montana this past July,” Anastasiades said in his speech.
He said his side had submitted comprehensive proposals on all six issues identified by the UN chief, he said, without revealing details as the talks to decide the fate of Cypriots and Turkish-Cypriots were being decided in secret and keeping the information from them.
“Regrettably, the Turkish and Turkish Cypriot side submitted proposals, which are not only contrary to the ideas set by the UN, but which were a contravention of EU law, and the Charter of the United Natiοns,” he added, without identifying what those were either.
On July 6, the Turkish side rejected the UN Secretary General’s prοposal to issue a press statement, which would have recorded, among other points, the parties’ commitment to abolishing the current system of security and guarantees, and the termination of right of intervention.
“Instead, the Turkish Foreign Minister repeated Turkey`s traditional positions on maintaining a system of security and guarantees, and a permanent presence of troops in reunited Cyprus,” Anastasiades said.
“Moreover, contrary tο the UN framework on territorial adjustments, Turkey steadfastly refused to address Greek Cypriot concerns. Ιt is indeed, deeply disappointing that at a critical point in the process, when Turkey was called to prove in a tangible manner its rhetoric that it is committed to a solution, it merely repeated its well-known unacceptable positions,” he added.