Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci briefed Turkish Cypriot civilian organisations today on the ongoing negotiating process aimed at reaching a solution to the Cyprus problem.
Akinci said that the process is being held within the framework of the joint declaration between President Anastasiades and former Turkish Cypriot President Eroglu and the high level agreements of 1977-79. Noting that the joint declaration describes the existing situation as unacceptable having negative consequences on both communities, Akinci said that all issues are on the negotiating table and the chapters are interdependently discussed.
Akinci noted that united Cyprus will be a member of the EU with a single international legal identity and a single citizenship. The powers of the government, he added, will be determined in the constitution and there will be two founding states, which will not interfere in each other’s powers. He said that the solution will be bi-zonal and at the same time the principles on which the EU is founded will be protected.
Akinci reiterated that nothing is agreed until everything is agreed and that after an agreement is reached between the leaders, this agreement will be submitted to a referendum. He said that the leaders will be meeting as often as is necessary as of November. He argued that they will achieve a successful result if they reach an agreement and submit it to a referendum before the parliamentary elections in South Cyprus in May 2016.
Referring to the natural gas resources in the Eastern Mediterranean, Akinci argued that if they are not used wisely they could constitute a threat, but if they are used wisely “they can produce solutions, there can be a contribution to solutions”. Noting that the amount found in South Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone is not very big, but Egypt’s and Israel’s resources are very rich, he argued that all experts agree that after a solution is found in Cyprus, all these will be transferred to Turkey and Europe through an energy corridor.
Pointing to the importance of improving of relations between Turkey and Israel, Akinci argued that the trade relations between the two countries continue. He also said that some Turkish companies have met with President Anastasiades.
Referring to the agreement between the leaders on the use of mobile telephones across the island, Akinci said that some obstacles have not been overcome yet and that after some demands by the regulator’s office in the South are satisfied, everybody will be able to use their cell phones across the entire island.
Akinci noted that they continue working on the connection of the electricity network, that the issue of bringing electricity from Turkey was discussed and that they provide for an infrastructure by which all sides will benefit.
Noting that they achieved progress on the chapter of governance and power sharing, Akinci said that they have not agreed on the issue of the rotating presidency. Akinci expressed the belief that the Greek Cypriot side will agree on this point and noted that this was included in the Annan Plan and was approved in the process that followed. He added:
“I said that I see it as a result of our political equality. We will have an equal number in the Senate. There will be some special laws which will require an autonomous majority. I am optimistic that we will ensure a solution which will include our political equality. There will not be a serious problem. There are principles which we must emphasise: political equality, living freely and living in security“.
Referring to the issue of guarantees, he said that this is one of the six chapters in the negotiations, it concerns the guarantor powers as well and will be discussed by all five parties together (the three guarantor powers and the two communities). He said that this issue has been left for the very end. He added:
“Let us build the structure we want to be guaranteed. Some guarantees will be discussed within this structure itself. The five parties will come together and discuss this issue. It is meaningless to bring this issue onto the agenda in a speculative manner from now. Greece says ‘I am not interested’. Britain says something like ‘I am not interested, but my bases will continue to exist’. The stance of these two countries is important. The sensibility of the Turkish Cypriot people is important. The Turkish Cypriot people must feel secure. Formulas in which all sides will be secure and not feel that they are threatened can be discussed”.
Referring to the property issue, Akinci said that territory and names of villages or percentages have not been discussed. He noted that no map has been put onto the table. He said that there was an attempt to put a map on the table, but they did not accept it. “This issue will come onto the agenda, but not yet”, he added pointing out that progress was achieved on governance and power sharing, the EU and the economy.
“There are still three important and thorny chapters: property, territory and security-guarantees”, he said adding that there was a categorisation on the property issue and that 22 categories of properties were determined.
Noting that confusion was caused by a statement they had made, Akinci pointed out that some persons tried to use this statement saying that the Greek Cypriots’ property right was recognised and all of you will be thrown out. He said that what was recognised is something which had been recognised for years. “The reason for the establishment of the Property Compensation Commission derives from the recognition of the individuals’ property right”, he argued adding that there are five ways of using this right: compensation, exchange, alternative property, or partial return.
He added: “There is a new development helping the solution. While time does not contribute to the solution, the time that passes helps. 75% say that I will either sell [the property] or I will be compensated. This was an issue solved by time. If 160 thousand persons had really migrated from the North, a part of those who migrated are not alive 41 years later. Their children are around 50 years old. They have established a totally different life in the South and are not thinking of returning to the North. They want compensation and exchange. Just like we want for the property we have left in the South.
If we are able to solve the property issue, in case we form criteria which will ensure that the Turkish Cypriots will be the majority in the sense of population and property in the North, we will have eliminated a very important obstacle. The devil will be hidden in the criteria. A commission will be established and individuals will not settle this issue between themselves.”