President Mustafa Akinci, spoke to the press following his routine weekly meeting with Prime Minister Tufan Erhurman on foreign and domestic issues, as well as the upcoming visit to the island by the UN Secretary General’s Special Temporary Envoy Jane Holl Lute. President Akinci said that he had found the opportunity to discuss a number of issues during his meeting with Erhurman on Thursday.
“One of the issues we discussed was the resettlement of Maronites to their villages in the TRNC. I was informed by the prime minister that the government is continuing to carry out its work to make the return of the Maronites possible. My undersecretary and the prime minister’s undersecretary will continue to work in close consultation on the matter”, he added.
Touching upon his meeting with the UN special envoy on Sunday, Akinci reminded that Lute’s contacts were aimed at assessing whether or not there was sufficient common understanding and grounds to restart a new negotiations process. “In the meantime, ahead of Mrs Lute’s visit, the UN Security Council adopted the resolution extending the mandate of the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus for another six months. As you know these resolutions and reports are drafted following consultations and contacts with the sides concerned”, he said.
Pointing out that at no point in time during his term in office, did the Turkish Cypriot side advocate a complete end to UNFICYP’s mandate on the island, Akinci stated that this did not mean that the mandate should not be revised.
“UN Peacekeepers were first sent to Cyprus in March 1964. That means 55 years. UNFICYP should not become a symbol of the status quo on the island nor should the mandate serve to further encourage the Greek Cypriot side’s reluctance to work towards a settlement”, he said. Akinci also reminded that half of UNFICYP’s financing was provided by Greece and the Greek Cypriot Administration.
Criticising the fact that the Turkish Cypriot side’s consent was not sought whilst the decision to extend UNFICYP’s mandate was taken, Akinci said that this must change in the future.
As regards the possibility of restarting a fresh round of negotiations, the president said the Turkish Cypriot side was not closed to the idea of discussing the notion of a loose federation where the constituent states have more powers as long as the process was to be result-oriented, subject to timetables and safeguarded the political equality of the two sides. “Even if the word timetables is not used in all the latest UN reports and resolutions, the wording used, ‘foreseeable horizons’, implies it”, he added.
Stating that the latest resolution also emphasised the importance of Confidence Building Measures (CBM), he argued that everyone was well aware of the Turkish Cypriot side’s positive stance on this issue.
Pointing the finger of blame at the Greek Cypriot side, President Akinci: “What the report should question is why the existing CBMs already agreed upon such as island-wide mobile phone operability, interconnectivity of electricity grids, education and mine clearing have not yet been implemented”. Akinci concluded by saying that as developments unfold on the Cyprus problem, “he will continue to discuss and meet with the government and parliament before taking decisions on the basis of collective thinking”.