President Mustafa Akinci has told reporters that Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades had told him of his concerns about the Navtex (notice to mariners) issued by Turkey. Anastasiades said that this was counter to the spirit of good will in the talks and did not contribute to a positive atmosphere.
Akinci told the press after his meeting with Anastasiades that he had told him that Turkey’s latest Navtex was in response to the Greek Cypriot sides “stubbornness and persistence” in continuing with unilateral hydrocarbon explorations off-shore Cyprus. This had been the first issued he had brought only four days before the talks had begun on 15th May 2015, Akinci reminded.
“This was the first issue I had brought up during our meeting at Ledra Palace. The issue of hydrocarbon exploration was one issue that we had to avoid while conducting negotiations. We had said we would either set up a committee or postpone the matter completely giving the negotiations a chance. Unfortunately this is not what we are seeing. The Turkish Cypriot side will be taking joint steps with Turkey to defend its rights in an environment when new activities will begin in July”, Akinci stated.
He went on to say that that the prevention of a group of foreign school children taking part in the 23rd April celebrations in the TRNC, had also come up at the meeting.
Akinci said that this issue had truly damaged confidence and trust. Stating that an earlier on, a group from Lithuania which had arrived via south Cyprus, had successfully crossed over to the TRNC without experiencing any problems because of their EU membership, Akinci said that barring the Serbian and Russian group by Greek Cypriot officials from entering the island had been unfair on the children.
On the issue of the four freedoms to be granted to all Turkish nationals after the solution, as well as the issue of active participation in decision making in the federal administration, Akinci said that both issues could be settled if there is the necessary good will and desire. “It is out of the question to sneak in 80 million Turkish nationals into the EU through the back door or to pave the way for a full scale invasion of the EU. Our proposals and positions have the approval of the UN and the EU but we have yet to convince our Greek Cypriot counterparts. We are also meeting resistance on the issue of active participation in decision making which we are finding difficult to understand,” he said.
Reminding that there are three more meetings scheduled over the course of the next two months, Akinci said that achieving progress seemed extremely difficult if the talks continued in this manner.
“I do not want to sound pessimistic but as everyone can see things will become extremely difficult as of July. That’s why the next three meetings are extremely important. We have not given the UN a mediating role. It would be extremely useful if the UN, through a form of shuttle diplomacy, could come up with effective advice in drawing up a general picture of the situation, at least on the four main chapters. If we fail to draw a comprehensive picture we are going to end up, as we did tonight, spending hours discussing the same issues without reaching any results,” he added.