President Mustafa Akinci described as “meaningless and unmeasured reaction” the fact that President Anastasiades kept himself absent from the dinner hosted by Turkish President Erdogan. The formal dinner was being held for heads of states and governments within the framework of the Humanitarian Summit of the United Nations in Istanbul. Anastasiades stayed away from the event, on the grounds that Akinci was also invited.
In statements after his return on Tuesday to the TRNC, Akinci said that he met with the UN Secretary-General in Istanbul within the framework of their efforts for finding a solution in Cyprus. The aim of his meetings with the UNSG has always been the solution and bringing better days to the island, Akinci argued:
“Yes, the Turkish Cypriot people are in favour of a solution and will strive as hard as they can, but the Turkish Cypriot people will not remain as people stranded only in the buffer zone in Cyprus. Everyone must understand this and behave accordingly. As Turkish Cypriot people will we meet with the UN and the General Secretary of this organisation only and only in New York? Will we meet with the UN officials only at the buffer zone in Nicosia?”
Commenting on the fact that President Anastasiades did not participate in the dinner hosted by Erdogan in Istanbul, Akinci said:
“It is really meaningless not to digest our presence there. Instead of acting with emotions and reactively, we should proceed in the right direction with reason and sense”.
Akinci explained that he did not participate in the UN’s Humanitarian Summit, but in the dinner upon Erdogan’s invitation and recalled that he also met with the UNSG in Istanbul.
When called to comment on the perception created that his visit to Istanbul had been kept as a secret, Akinci argued that the UNSG’s program was very busy, that the possibility of his meeting with the UNSG was finalised later and that is why it seemed to have happened suddenly.
Asked whether the meeting planned between the leaders on 27th May will be held, in the light of the latest developments, Akinci said that from their point of view there is no reason for the meeting not to take place and added that they will go and if the meeting does not happen “those who created this situation” will surely explain to them why this happened. He noted that when he was departing for Istanbul he had not been informed of Anastasiades’ reaction and that the only thing he was informed about, was the annulment of the meeting of the Greek Cypriot side with Espen Barth Eide, the UNSG’s special adviser for Cyprus.
Replying to the allegations that President Anastasiades participated in the UN Humanitarian Summit only after ensuring guarantees that Akinci would not attend, Akinci reiterated that he did not visit Istanbul for the Summit, which took place in an area considered to belong to the UN, and that after Erdogan’s invitation he attended a dinner to which heads of states and governments were invited. “I responded positively to an invitation in a situation for which no one would have the right to say anything”, he argued and wondered: “What was expected? What could be more natural than the Republic of Turkey inviting the TRNC president in an event which its President was organising? I went there knowing that I would meet with the UNSG. I did not go only for the dinner”.
Akinci was asked why President Anastasiades was annoyed because this time he has met with the UNSG as head of state and whether President Anastasiades was avoiding the solution. Akinci replied that he did not want to make an “excessive interpretation” on this issue and expressed the view that excessive reactions are meaningless and that the Greek Cypriot side’s reaction on this issue was “unmeasured”.
Reiterating they he do whatever he can for a solution by defending the equality, freedom and security of the Turkish Cypriot people until the end and by taking into consideration the “reasonable sensitivities” of the other community, Akinci claimed:
“This does not mean that the Turkish Cypriot people will not even participate in a dinner organised and hosted by a President who says that he recognises them. And that they will not have a meeting there with the UNSG. This intolerance is a situation which we could not accept”.
Asked whether his participation in Erdogan’s dinner was a “bomb for the negotiating process”, Akinci wondered why this should be a bomb and why it should sabotage the negotiating process. “Why does our presence there cause so much annoyance? This is an issue which should be evaluated as helpful to the negotiating process and not as sabotage. I would like to be together with Mr Anastasiades there just like in Davos. His place was separated there. He is explaining why he did not come, but I do not think that his explanation could be very consistent, because they are making a wrong evaluation”.
Akinci said that he had met with the UNSG in January in Davos for the last time and added that they had a useful meeting in Istanbul during which they evaluated the developments happened since their last meeting.