President Mustafa Akinci in his Bayram address, said that despite the failure of all efforts to reach a solution in Cyprus it was important not to fall into despair.
“As you all know our efforts to reach a settlement in Crans–Montana [July 2017] failed. The Greek Cypriot leadership’s stance was the cause of this failure. Over the last two years, we have witnessed the Greek Cypriot leadership’s wavering stance on the Cyprus Problem. The Greek Cypriot side clouded the political atmosphere by attempting to bring alternative solution models to the table. As if this was not enough, they adopted a stance which rejected the basic parameters of our political equality”, Akinci said.
He said that it was only natural under the current circumstances to fall into a state of hopelessness and to believe that a partnership with Greek Cypriots would not be possible.
However, the President added that to pursue a two-state solution in Cyprus would be nothing more than deceiving the public.
“I have said time and time again, the Greek Cypriots will be the last ones to accept a sovereign and independent Turkish Cypriot state. Even though this idea may sound nice, taking into account the current conjuncture, it is not a goal that is attainable in the near future,” he added.
To argue that the option of a federal solution has been exhausted and the time has come to discuss a two-state solution under the EU umbrella as a realistic option is nothing more than a dream, said Akinci. “More importantly it would be not telling the truth to the public”, he added. Akinci said that his mandate as president was to deal with facts and not dreams.
He noted that “the Greek Cypriot leadership’s rejection of the political equality of the Turkish Cypriots was a serious challenge in the way of a federal settlement”.
Akinci explained that pursuing other solution models would have serious and negative consequences to the Turkish Cypriots.
“Nevertheless, we must not abandon our righteous and just position. It is clear what will happen the second we pursue a goal that falls outside the framework of UN parameters. […] I have no intention of allowing this to happen as long as I serve in this post,” he warned.
Also touching upon the issue of confidence-building measures (CBMs), President Akinci said that despite the negative developments regarding the negotiations, promising developments were taking place on the implementation of CBMs.
He said that not only had two new crossing points opened in Derynia and Aplic on November 12, 2018, the two sides’ electricity grids had been connected.
“We are expecting the CBMs on mobile phone interoperability to come into effect in the near future. GSM operators on both sides have signed separate agreements with Swiss based mobile phone operator Comfone. It is my hope and expectation that technical work will be completed very soon,” he added.
He also said that progress was being achieved on the de-mining CBM and exchange of artworks and recordings belonging to Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots.
Regarding the recent European Parliament (EP) elections and the election of Niyazi Kizilurek as an MEP, Akinci said that the results of the elections showed a drop in seats of the left and centre right.
“This means that the balances within the EP are shifting. It is important to follow these developments closely and to make the right assessments,” he said.
“Nevertheless it is my view that the importance of his election should neither be downplayed nor exaggerated,” he said.
President pointed out that Kizilyurek’s election was unique which did not change the realities on the island or the Cyprus Problem.
“Mr Kizilyurek is an academic who has been living in South Cyprus for years, who is fluent in both of the island’s languages and has connections on both sides. This is why his election is unique and cannot be subject to any generalisations. As I mentioned before we are pursuing our rights as a community. Two of the six seats in the European Parliament belong to Turkish Cypriots and our struggle in that direction will continue,” he said.
He also explained that Kizilyurek’s election did not mean that the Turkish Cypriot side had gained one of the two seats allocated for Turkish Cypriots within the European Parliament. “Mr Kizilyurek has neither made such a claim and has clearly stated that he took part in these elections as a European citizen,” Akinci stressed.
On the issue of the new coalition government, Akinci expressed the view that “he would continue his dialogue with the next government as he did with the previous government as the impartial and independent nature of his post as president”.
He pointed out that the economic and social problems in the country had accumulated and that the new government needed to urgently address and solve these problems.
He warned that the status quo on the island will continue unless the two sides take urgent steps towards reaching a federal settlement and sharing the island’s natural resources.
President Akinci said that if this happens, the status quo could soon evolve into something dangerous, particularly because of the hydrocarbons issue.
“This, of course, is not something we desire. But to prevent this from happening we need to take steps in favour of peace and a settlement,” he concluded.