Turkey is deliberately undermining the resumption of the Cyprus negotiations by imposing unacceptable terms, South Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades told the Associated Press in an interview.
Anastasiades blamed Turkey for scuppering efforts by the UN Secretary-General’s special advisor on Cyprus Jane Holl Lute earlier this month. Her aim was to gain agreement between the two Cypriot community leaders on the terms of reference for a renewed round of Cyprus negotiations.
He said Turkey’s “obsession” with permanently stationing troops, secure military intervention rights and establishing its control over all of Cyprus under any peace deal, is unsettling for Greek Cypriots and diminishing the prospects of a solution to the problem.
Anastasiades said Turkey’s demand to grant the Turkish Cypriots equality in decision-making within a federal government “would, in effect, enable the minority community to determine policy and make the decisions”.
“It’s another way of controlling the whole of the new state of affairs or the entire state, which will essentially be transformed into a protectorate”, Anastasiades said.
“You can’t accept such provisions that would turn a state into the puppet of another state, but also become the only example in the world where potentially a peace deal would collapse the next day”.
He said that although he had outlined with Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci what he believed those parameters would be, Turkey had insisted that the Turkish Cypriots become equal participants in decision making in a federal Cyprus. This proviso had created a setback to a resumption of talks.
Anastasiades said Turkey was blocking the resumption of negotiations by continuing its unlawful drilling for gas in waters where [South] Cyprus has exclusive economic rights. Otherwise, he was ready to resume talks immediately.
“This is where Turkey will be tested on whether it wants talks or not”, said Anastasiades. “I don’t think anyone can negotiate under threat”.
Turkey’s call for South Cyprus to cease its drilling activities were also a non-starter, he said because it would “equate legal actions with illegal ones and undermine [South] Cyprus’ sovereign rights”.
Akinci’s proposal for a joint Greek Cypriot-Turkish Cypriot committee to oversee drilling activities was dismissed on the same grounds, Anastasiades said.
He added that he had made a counterproposal to establish a trust fund to hold an amount of future gas revenues for the Turkish Cypriots, proportionate to their population. This would be accessible even before a settlement in Cyprus is reached, providing Turkey recognises South Cyprus’ EEZ.
Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots should think long and hard about “forcefully provoking the international community” by moving ahead with a plan to settle the fenced-off, town of Varosha/Maraş, he advised.
Such a move would be counter to the United Nations Security Council decisions prohibiting such actions, said Anastasiades.