President Mustafa Akıncı has said that Turkish Cypriots deserve a life with EU values even if a settlement is not reached on the island.
The President was speaking to reporters following yesterday’s meeting with the Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades and Maarten Verwey, the Director General of the Structural Reform Support Service at the old Lefkoşa airport in the UN controlled buffer zone.
The EU Commission’s representative at the talks Peter Van Nuffel was also present at the meeting.
The three men discussed findings by an ad hoc committee that is looking into progress in the Turkish Cypriot side regarding reforms, aimed at the acclimatisation of the TRNC with the European acquis in case of a solution in Cyprus.
Noting that the EU had allocated a 3 million Euro budget for the harmonisation of the banking system with the EU, Akıncı said that the government had opposed this citing security reasons.
He said that the Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades had been given leverage for no good reason because of this.
Pointing out that the TRNC will be transformed into one of the two constituent states in the event of a federal settlement; the President said that completing the EU harmonisation process at this stage was an important duty that needed to be undertaken.
Reminding that he had reached an agreement with the President of the EU Commission Jean Claude Juncker regarding the harmonisation of the TRNC in 2015, Akıncı said that the head of the EU Commission had now sent an experienced expert to the island.
Nearly 200 experts have paid 34 visits to the TRNC over the past two years, he said.
“Of course the goal, the preference is to reach a solution in Cyprus. EU standards will come into force immediately if we are ready, if we are not after a transition period. However if we are unable to reach a settlement this does not mean we shall be abandoning EU standards. Solution or not, to live a better quality life is the right way to go. We shall continue to work for this,” he said.
Asked to comment on Anastasiades’s remarks that the Turkish Cypriot side was not sharing data with the Greek Cypriot side regarding the banks, Akıncı pointed out that the banks in the North must go through stress tests.
He pointed out that 3 million Euros had been allocated by the EU for the job.
“The EU wanted to give us this money but we’ve had problems with the government on this issue. Our finance minister turned down the EU offer stating that we did not need anyone’s money and that we could do with our own reserves. Time went by and we reached a formula. The finance minister does not want this data to fall into the hands of the Greek Cypriots. The agreement was reached that this data would be made available once a settlement is reached. Let alone the banks would not be releasing information regarding private accounts. This would have been a general evaluation. Unfortunately due to the government’s stance we have given the Greek Cypriot leader leverage on this issue,” he said.
Asked to comment on the seismic research vessel ‘Barbaros Hayreddin Paşa’ conducting surveys in the area, Akıncı repeated that the Turkish Cypriots had equal rights over the island’s resources.
“The answer to your question is yes. No one can object to the ship conducting research. What is wrong is what the Greek Cypriots are doing…conducting unilateral research. I told Mr. Anastasiades about this at our first meeting two years ago. I told him that there would be problems if they continued with their exploration activities. We had reached a verbal agreement back then. Now look where we stand,” he said.