President Mustafa Akinci has said that negotiators are concentrating on the establishing the criteria for compensation in the chapter on property. He said that he believed that once this issue is settled, then the other chapters will be addressed and solved in a rational way.
In an exclusive interview with ‘Kibris Gazetesi’ after completing his contacts in New York, Akinci drew attention to the importance [for the Turkish side] of designing the criteria on the property issue in such a manner that the Turkish Cypriots have the “clear majority” of properties in the North. He argued that Turkish Cypriots should be the majority in their own area and noted that in all the agreements, it is written that the solution will be bi-zonal and bi-communal. Akinci said that EU and other officials and other officials whom they meet understand this and believe that a way could be found.
Asked whether they are working on a certain percentage of Turkish Cypriot majority in population and properties, Akinci replied:
“It is important to accept this in principle, because as of the beginning of the 1990’s it became a UN parameter. It has been approved in the UN Security Council Resolution No 750. What is understood by bi-zonality is for the two communities being the clear majority in their own area. This means that of course, it will be much greater than 50%.
I do not want to give a [specific] percentage in this sense. The important thing is to agree on this issue and be able to prepare the criteria on the property issue within the framework of this principle. Therefore, I think that having a clear majority will be one of the foundation stones for leading us to success in the Cyprus negotiations. If we are able to overcome this issue within this framework on the property, and I believe that we will be able to do it, I believe that we will be able to reasonably find ways out in the other chapters which will come onto the agenda”.
Akinci noted that another point on which the Turkish Cypriot side is “sensitive” is the issue of turning the agreement into primary law of the EU. This requires that the agreement is endorsed by the parliaments of all 28 member states, he said, but if there are some people who believe that there could be other ways, the Turkish Cypriots are open to suggestions.
Referring to the issue of permanent derogations from the EU law, Akinci commented that these should be considered to be a “natural right” of the Turkish Cypriots instead of being considered as limitation of the rights of the Greek Cypriots or the other EU citizens.
Asked whether permanent derogations will be needed in case bi-zonality is guaranteed in the criteria for the property, he replied:
“It does not mean this. We want some provisions of the agreement to become EU primary law in order to avoid the agreement being questioned in the courts. We know that permanent derogations are something which are not very popular in the EU, but in spite of this, some countries have secured these derogations when carrying out their accession negotiations to the EU. A part of them is permanent and a part is temporary. Now it is talked of temporary derogations for us, but being primary law is very important. The Turkish Cypriot community must find ways of being able to have the majority of property ownership and population in its own area. In this sense, there should be some understanding of our sensitivities [on this]”.
Asked about the question of cross-voting, Akinci said that he sees the issue of the cross-voting as positive and that this is an element strengthening the federal structure, but in order for the Turkish Cypriot side to accept this, there must be a rotating presidency.
He argued: “We can evaluate the cross-voting issue provided that we agree on the rotating presidency. However, discussing the cross-voting issue without establishing the principle of a rotating presidency is meaningless. I think that it would not be a bad thing if a person who becomes the president of the entire united federal structure in rotation, is voted in by a certain percentage of the other community and in the beginning this could influence by 10% – 15% and be limited in this number. The person, who will be elected, regardless of which community he comes from, will act knowing that he will have to take into consideration the concerns of the other community”.
Akinci noted that the negotiations are progressing rapidly and that the time for the involvement of the guarantor powers is approaching because their target is an early conclusion to the talks. He said that during his meeting with the UN Secretary-General they discussed the further contribution of the guarantor powers in the process.
Commenting on the UN Secretary-General’s statement on the issue, Akinci said that the procedure is a Cypriot-led process and that security and guarantees is one of six chapters.
He added: “Therefore, even though we say that this will be discussed at the end, because we are the process is moving quickly and we aiming to achieve an early solution, the Secretary-General’s statement is tantamount to saying that we are coming to the point at which the guarantor powers will enter the discussions […]”
Akinci noted that the security concerns of the Turkish Cypriots and the perceptions of the Greek Cypriots of what constitutes a threat, should seriously be taken into consideration and expressed the belief that a formula which will protect the concerns of both communities can be found on the issue of security and guarantees.