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Joint statement so near and yet so far

21 December 2013

President Eroglu has accused the South of “[continuing] the exchange of letters in order to gain time”, and that it would be better to negotiate face to face rather than endlessly swop letters.

In an interview with Turkish Cypriot daily ‘Kibris’ yesterday, the president said that the main target, as far as the Turkish Cypriots were concerned, was the establishment of a new political partnership in Cyprus with powers given to “two sovereign peoples”. He added that it was that detail which was the actual sticking point, holding up the issuing of a joint statement. Eroglu emphasised that there was no objection to both states being part of a sovereign state with a single international identity.

The Greek Cypriots sent a counterproposal on Friday which Eroglu described as containing “delicate tactics”. He said that he had expected a “yes or no” response to the Turkish Cypriot draft statement, rather than a counterproposal, adding everyone could play games, if that was what the South wanted.

Eroglu went on to say that, “if the Greek Cypriots looked with good will the text which we have put forward and gave a reply, the negotiations would start immediately. They do not have good will”.

Meanwhile, Turkish Cypriot daily ‘Afrika’ claims the Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu who visited the TRNC last weekend, had reached an agreement with the UK and Greece on the draft proposal prior to submitting it to the Greek Cypriots.

The paper states that Davutoglu had put this document in front of President Eroglu saying that whether they liked it or not, there could be no objection to its contents.

‘Afrika’ reports that the Turkish document submitted to the Greek Cypriot side includes the following:

The federal state will consist of two federate states and neither one of them will dominate over the other. The power of granting citizenship and work permits will belong to the central federal government. Those who comply with the criteria will be granted citizenship or a work permit and those who do not will leave the island.

“In this situation, the fate of the people from Turkey on the island depends on the federal government after the solution. At the last stage it will be determined how many persons will remain here and how many will leave”, writes Afrika, adding that the document also includes “confidence building measures”, for which it could obtain no details.

On the other side of the divide, President Anastasiades was struggling to get the hard-line opposition parties to agree on details on the framework of the joint agreement.

The Greek Cypriot president and his negotiating team met with party leaders on Wednesday and faced strong opposition to the President’s counterproposal.

At the meeting, the president had presented his counterproposal for a joint declaration which featured one change to the document submitted by the UN the previous week.

The hardliners – DIKO (the coalition party), EDEK, EuroKo and the Green party continued to object because they still felt that the Greek Cypriots were making too many concession in order to secure an agreement.

Reports say that they were calling for a plan B, the details of which have not been formulated.

However, apparently Anastasiades stuck to his guns and insisted that there was no alternative to launching negotiations. This decision had been reinforced in a telephone conversation he had that afternoon with the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, whom he informed that he would be presenting a new proposal for a joint declaration, despite the objections of the National Council.

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