President Nicos Anastasiades has said that many issues in the Cyprus negotiations would depend on the attitude of Turkey.
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, he said that it was worth emphasising overlapping interests rather than attempting to pressure Turkey.
He pointed to the presence of Turkish troops in the North saying:
“Some key issues for the resolution of the dispute depend entirely on Turkey, while there are also others where Turkey can contribute to a large extent and help to resolve things”.
The journal posed that question that given US dependence on Turkey in the Syrian and the EU’s dependence on Turkey over the migration crisis, would Germany and the EU want to pressurise Turkey over the Cyprus issue.
“It’s not a matter of pressure but rather a matter of overlapping interests,” Anastasiades said. “What you note is correct, but there are also aspects that give Turkey incentives to contribute to the resolution. The discovery of gas fields in the southeast Mediterranean directly affects Turkey, either to cover its internal needs or to become an energy hub for Europe. Turkey knows that the pipelines would either have to pass through Cyprus, which would cut down the cost to €1 billion, or use underwater routes, which would have to cross Cyprus’s exclusive economic zone.”
Another factor that Turkey should consider, he noted, was that if it wanted to join the EU, solving the Cyprus problem was critical in order to remove obstacles to joining. He also pointed to the significant financial burden it had undertaken to maintain the North and 43,000 troops it had placed there.
“This financial haemorrhage stops after the resolution of the dispute,” said Anastasiades. “It will also contribute to improving the relationships between Turkey and Greece, Turkey and Europe, Europe and NATO. So it isn’t about pressure on Turkey, but rather whether Turkey feels the need to finally achieve an end to a problem that it has to deal with in all international forums and international relationships it wants to develop.”
Anastasiades said that Turkey had talked up its support for a Cyprus settlement, but warned that talk was one thing, and action was another. “Therefore it remains to be seen at the negotiating table if Turkey will in fact contribute to a solution,” he said.
Asked about the cost of funding a solution, he said one of the issues that required time, even if there is agreement on everything else, was the estimate of the funds that would be required for the solution “for example for compensation payments, the reconstruction of some areas, and the operation of the new state” he said, adding that the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank had undertaken to give a final and documented estimate, “which requires time”.
Anastasiades told the newspaper that he was cautiously optimistic about a solution but repeated that it would take time even if the leaders agree.