Turkey’s rhetoric must be put to test
Turkey’s rhetoric of its desire to reach a settlement in Cyprus will at last be tested in practice if it adopts concrete steps that will push the negotiating process and contribute to the climate of hope prevailing in the island, President Nicos Anastasiades said in New York.
Addressing the 70th session of the UN General Assembly, Anastasiades said that what we aspire is to reach a settlement that will leave neither winners nor losers.
He said that reaching a solution on the Cyprus problem can become an example in the region of how diplomacy and reconciliation can help resolve even the most difficult of conflict, prevailing over mistrust.
“Cyprus through its own experience of hosting the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus greatly values the UN contribution to maintenance of peace and security,” Anastasiades said while giving an update on the Cyprus negotiations and the new round of talks with Mustafa Akinci which started in May.
“Following the non-renewal of [maritime exploration] actions which violated the … sovereign rights within its exclusive economic zone, and the change in the leadership of the Turkish Cypriot community, a window of opportunity opened that revived our hope that the new round of negotiations which resumed in May will lead to the final settlement of the Cyprus problem.”
He based his hope in his conviction that both he and the Turkish Cypriot leader “share the same political courage and resolve to decisively move forward in order to materialise the joint vision of our people who desire a solution through a viable, lasting and functional settlement.”
Describing the principles that should guide the solution of the Cyprus problem, Anastasiades stressed that the settlement should be in conformity with the values and principles of both the Charter of the United Nations and the EU acquis, the High Level Agreements between the leaders of the two communities of 1977, 1979, as well as the Joint Declaration of February 11, 2014.
The settlement, he added, should lead to the evolution of the Republic of Cyprus to a federal state, in a bizonal, bicommunal federation with political equality, a single sovereignty, a single international legal personality and a single citizenship, and a state that is and will continue to be a member of the UN, the EU, and numerous other international organisations and whose sovereignty, territorial integrity and constitutional order will not be constrained by anachronistic systems of guarantees by third countries and the presence of foreign troops in the island.
“This settlement will leave neither winners nor losers. It will take into account the sensitivities and concerns of both communities and will respect the fundamental freedoms and human rights of all Cypriots, whether Greek or Turkish. It will reunite the country, its people, the economy and institutions. It will create a homeland of peaceful co-existence and prosperous collaboration between all of its citizens, for the benefit of the younger generations. It will allow Cyprus to utilise its full potential by removing all the political barriers that prevent the full exploitation of our unique geographical position at the crossroads of Europe, North Africa, the Middle East and Asia. It will transform Cyprus into a shining example of the ethnic, cultural, religious and linguistic cooperation between Christian and Muslim communities. And it will turn Cyprus into a model-country of reliability, stability and security in what is now a very turbulent and volatile region, characterised by protracted conflicts and instability.”
Anastasiades told the General Assembly that during this new negotiating round, progress has been achieved in a number of issues and that on other substantive issues there are significant differences that need to be resolved.
“Differences that, in order to be resolved, would also require Turkey’s active and determined contribution, considering that its occupation forces still remain in the northern part of our country.”
Referring to the discovery of hydrocarbons in the region, he said: “The discovery in Eastern Mediterranean has the potential to create synergies and a grid of alliances for broader cooperation between hydrocarbon-producing and hydrocarbonconsuming countries of that area and beyond to the benefit of their socioeconomic development and the welfare of our people. Such positive developments can foster the achievement and maintenance of a much needed environment of stability and peace in the region.”
He suggested, in order to reverse these worrying developments the need to tackle political instability and economic insecurity, so that all those countries and regions in the conflict zones, and in particular the Middle East and North Africa, are turned into places in which sustainable development is a reality.
“We should direct our efforts towards the enablers of terrorism. It is not enough to rescue people from sinking boats. We should direct our efforts against traffickers. It is not enough to financially support the economic immigrants. We should direct our efforts in creating those political and socio-economic conditions that would allow all those people not to migrate from their countries.”
Meanwhile, government sources expressed satisfaction over the outcome of a meeting earlier in the day between US Vice President Joe Biden and Anastasiades.
The meeting took place in a very friendly atmosphere and focused on recent developments in the Cyprus reunification talks and energy issues, the sources said, according to the Cyprus News Agency.
President Anastasiades is said to have asked the United States’ help in matters pertaining to guarantees, the armed forces, the four freedoms and on funding the solution to the Cyprus problem.
The importance of Cyprus’ role as a US strategic partner, was acknowledged on the part of Biden, sources pointed out, while Anastasiades also had a meeting in New York with Noble Energy’s CEO.
In a separate meeting, Anastasiades and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras reconfirmed that cooperation on the Cyprus problem and regional cooperation is central to both of their countries’ foreign policies.
Immediately afterwards, Tsipras met Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, with whom Anastasiades had met on Monday. It is expected that the Egyptian President will visit Greece soon, as the next tripartite meeting between Greece, Cyprus and Egypt will take place in Athens, for which the three foreign ministers will meet on October 1.
Energy issues, President Anastasiades’ initiatives on the Middle East, as well as the preparation of the forthcoming tripartite meeting in Athens were the subjects discussed between the Presidents of Cyprus and Egypt. Government spokesman Nicos Christodoulides said that the first issue on the agenda were energy developments in the region following the recent gas discoveries within the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of Egypt.
He noted that the two Presidents share the common belief that an even stronger cooperation between Cyprus and Egypt in the field of energy would yield benefits to both the region and the two countries.
“An ongoing dialogue is underway and it is expected to be enhanced” he added.
Anastasiades also briefed his Egyptian counterpart on the trip he is planning in Jordan and Palestine and possibly in some other countries in the region.
As regards the tripartite meeting, the Government Spokesman said that the meeting at the level of the Heads of State of Greece, Cyprus and Egypt is be expected to be held in Athens.