The last three months of 2015 will be very significant months for Cyprus because, by then, there will be a clear picture of where the negotiations are headed, President Mustafa Akinci said on Tuesday.
Addressing a press conference to mark 100 days of his presidency, Akinci said he would be meeting UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York in September.
“I predict that the months of October, November and December will be very important,” he said. “There will be a clearer picture of where we are headed.”
Akinci said he had already met President Nicos Anastasiades seven times and if the determination from the Greek Cypriot side continued, a solution could be found within months, not years, he said.
Asked about time frames, Akinci referred to the Greek Cypriot parliamentary elections next May saying: “if by May we do not succeed in achieving a serious development that will bring results, things will drag on.”
The Greek Cypriot side responded quickly, saying the Joint Declaration agreed in February 2014 clearly stated that there would be no time frames for a solution, deputy government spokesman Victoras Papadopoulos told CyBC.
Regarding the territory issue,Akinci denied media reports that the two leaders had discussed villages and maps.
“We all know what problems this might lead to if we discuss these matters before their time comes,” he said, complaining that several of his quotes last week had been misrepresented in the press.
Touching on the issue of natural gas in South Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone, Akinci said he did not believe there were significant enough volumes to justify exports. Findings so far showed reserves could cover the energy demands of the island for 120 years, he added, noting that he did not anticipate any problems arising on the subject during the negotiations.
Regarding the issue of guarantees, Akinci said they would be discussed in due course, reiterating his stance that this was an international issue involving five parties – the two sides in Cyprus, and guarantor powers Greece, Turkey and Britain.
The safety and freedom of Turkish Cypriots was a priority, Akinci said, adding that he would never propose an agreement that did not guarantee that. Guarantors and territory would be discussed towards the end of the negotiations, he said, adding that he had not raised the issue with Erdogan.
Turkey is supportive on negotiations and not an obstacle, Akinci told reporters saying he wanted people to have time to acquaint themselves with the details of the solution and not vote without being adequately informed.
He repeated his attempt to ease concerns in the North over property, saying there was no need to panic. Akinci and Anastasiades were criticised on their respective sides for agreeing to respect the individual’s right to property – both owners and current users.
“Once criteria on the property issue is established, the matter will be resolved to a large extent with compensation and no one will be wronged,” he said.
He also spoke of other developments during his 100 days such as the scrapping of the visa paper, which had resulted in an additional 3,000 people crossing North last month, moves to open new border crossing points, connecting the electricity grid and mobile network, and the agreement allowing hellim (halloumi) to be sold to EU markets and its expected PDO status.