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President Akinci has a fine line to tread on territorial issues

9 October 2016

The Cyprus negotiations could fail if President Akinci is not willing to return significant territory to the Greek Cypriots. The ratio of territory per capita, and the demand to return land formerly occupied by the Greek Cypriots are red lines for the Greek Cypriot side.

However, given that the settlement is to be made under EU law, which permits the right of movement and the right to reside anywhere on the island, territorial adjustments should be minimal, according to the official Turkish Cypriot position, writes Ezra Aygun in Cyprus Weekly.

He writes that some Turkish Cypriots would argue that under those conditions, boundaries are less significant. The two component states are more administrative entities. Others says that a just solution is to give the Turkish Cypriots political equality and a fair share in governance, in return for territory.

So far, discussion on territory has been limited to criteria and has not included details such as maps and place names.

Akinci has also repeatedly said that the negotiations on territory should be made abroad to avoid leaks and speculation.

According to International Relations Professor Ahmet Sozen of Cyprus University:

A solution requires you to give what you have in excess and take what you are lacking,” he said.

The Turkish Cypriot side’s hand is strong in terms of property and territory, whereas the Greek Cypriot side’s hand is strong in terms of governance and power.”

Turkish Cypriot NGOs have called on Akinci to make the necessary concessions on territory and property for the sake of achieving a federal solution in Cyprus.

We would like to remind the Greek Cypriot side that political equality and rotational presidency are very important for Turkish Cypriots. We would also like to remind the Turkish Cypriot side that territory and properties are very important for the Greek Cypriots.”

Clearly President Akinci will have his work cut out not to upset the Turkish Cypriots, for whom territory is also an important issue, and which is a potential deal breaker for the Greek Cypriots.

Ezra Aygun – Cyprus Weekly

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