President Mustafa Akinci gave a detailed statement regarding the course of the Cyprus negotiations after his latest meeting with President Anastasiades.
Akinci underlined that finding a solution in 2016 is sine qua non.
“The issues of security and guarantees should be discussed at a five party conference”, he argued saying that “the period beginning in September until December is the period during which we should discuss these issues” and that the five party conference should not be left until 2017.
Referring to the meeting, Akinci said that detailed work took place, that they gradually began discussing technical issues and that they discussed eight issues in total, four of which were under the economy chapter and the rest under the EU chapter.
Akinci said that on the economy chapter, the issues were discussed in such detail that even the VAT percentages were taken up. The final target being that after the necessary transitional periods, there will be similar VAT rates for the entire island.
He noted that they also discussed the resources to be given by the federal budget to the founding states and the percentage of the contribution to the Turkish Cypriot founding state, which will be financially weaker.
He said that convergences were achieved but some differences still remain. “The technical committees will continue discussing the points on which disagreement still exists, but I believe that these issues will not continue to be matters which block the way”, he added and expressed the belief that they should work harder to overcome problematic issues in the forthcoming talks.
“We believe that when we take up the issue of territory and guarantees, we should reach the point of resolving this issue by meeting continuously”, Akinci said and argued: “If we do not succeed, we should be able to sincerely say to our people that we solved these points, but we could somehow not overcome the differences between us on this important point”.
Akinci said that federal executive, judiciary and legislative powers will be discussed during the next leaders’ meeting on 22nd July with the issue of internal security being discussed on 26th July. On 29th July, discussion on territory will be “in the form of brain storming” without discussing place names, percentages and maps.
Asked what will happen in the process following the 29th July meeting, Akinci replied that if they work effectively and successfully during the remaining limited time period, they could achieve a solution by the end of the year. He added: “Our target to turn 2016 into the year of the solution still continues. In our view, this is an attainable target, but it depends on how effective the forthcoming process will be and how much the sides will come close to each other. On 29th July we will discuss the following programme but August is a month for vacations especially in Europe and south Cyprus. Therefore, there will definitely be a two week break in August, but I hope that as of the second half of August and in the following months we will be able to construct a very serious working programme again”.
Asked to comment on the UN Secretary-General’s recent report regarding the UNFICYP, Akinci commented that what was lacking in the report was that it did not say who was responsible for the non-materialisation of the confidence building measures (CBM), why these measures have not been materialised and what is source of the problem.
Akinci expressed the view that if the report remains as it is, it will be unjust for the Turkish Cypriot side and added that he would say this to the UNSG’s special Adviser Espen Barth Eide during a meeting they would be holding.
Replying to another question, Akinci said that if other CBMs come onto the agenda the Turkish Cypriots will not avoid them, but wondered whether it wouldn’t be better to implement now the CBMs agreed in May 2015.