Sunday’s meeting between President Nicos Anastasiades and President Mustafa Akinci revolved around aspects related to citizenship.
Following the four hour meeting, President Anastasiades said the details of the meeting included legal residence, basic freedoms and voting rights.
“I should say that in a constructive atmosphere there appears to exist convergences on most issues,” he said. “Some issues remain to be clarified which have been sent for further study to the negotiators.”
Asked if there had been any restrictions agreed on the rights of establishment and property acquisition in both states, Anastasiades said:
“We did not get into this detail. There is an understanding that to obtain, for example, any property… there is a limitation on the extent… housing, property, business premises. But it was always going to be for a transitional period until the Turkish Cypriot constituent state reached the [economic] levels of the Greek Cypriot state.”
Asked if President Akinci had accepted the implementation of the right to settlement and property acquisition, the president said that “this has already been agreed.” He added that “this is why I say that there is significant progress. Certain details remain to be determined on certain of the other issues.”
On Friday, President Akinci had said that on occasion, the Greek Cypriot side struggled with the concept of a federal solution and that they had to internalise this idea. Asked to comment on Akinci’s remarks, Anastasiades said: “We most certainly understand federation, and I also want the others to realise that certain proposals are not consistent with a federation when they introduce elements of confederation. And there is much more that must be taken into account.”
Referring to the number of Turkish settlers to be permitted to remain in the north, in the event of a solution, the Greek Cypriot president said that according to existing numbers, there were currently 117,545 Turkish Cypriots registered as citizens of the Cyprus Republic but there were a number of Turkish Cypriots who were not, he said, adding that this has been calculated at around 12,500 people, bringing the total Turkish Cypriots to around 130,000. The maximum number of settlers possible to be in mixed marriages or are children of mixed marriages, were no more than 90,000, he said.
The two community leaders have fixed citizenship figures at 220,000 for Turkish Cypriots and just over 800,000 for Greek Cypriots as part of the solution.
Asked to comment on the some party leaders’ assertions that the Republic of Cyprus is in danger, the president said: “The Republic of Cyprus will remain in danger as long as the Cyprus problem is not solved.”
After he returned to the north, President Akinci said they had discussed issues of equal treatment of Turkish and Greek nationals among other topics.
“Today we confirmed where we had arrived earlier in the negotiations and that is the right of legal residence which will be 20 percent of the number of citizens in the Turkish Cypriot constituent state. In this way the Turkish Cypriot majority will not be compromised in any way,” said Akinci.
He pointed out that the right of residence for those from the other constituent state would not include any political rights. It would only be for those who wanted to live there or to work or create a business.
“All these possibilities will exist on both sides, but they do not contain political rights,” he added.
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said on Saturday evening at the Syriza conference in Athens, that the Cyprus problem was fundamentally one of invasion and occupation, not a bilateral dispute under international law.
“A solution with the permanent presence of Turkish troops on the island is not a solution and this must be understood by everyone,” he said.
Asked to comment on these statements, Akinci said the number of troops that would stay behind would be small but the number had not been agreed yet and would be discussed in talks on security and guarantees.
“Seen from this perspective, it will contribute to the solution but if you say zero army, zero guarantees, zero security – then it may not be possible to reach a deal,” he added.
The two community leaders will meet again on Monday.