Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci has put to rest any ideas of ‘zero troops and zero guarantees’ in Cyprus, saying on Monday both communities on the divided island have suffered in the past.
Akinci was assessing a public speech he had made a day earlier, when he told a crowd that both communities on the island had their share of bitter past, according to Turkish Cypriot Bayrak radio.
“While we had suffered at various times, the other community had suffered at other times. We should not overlook this,” Akinci said.
But the Turkish Cypriot leader also had some criticism towards the Greek Cypriot leadership, accusing them of maintaining maximalist positions on the issue of security and guarantees.
Mustafa Akinci says the Greek Cypriots are distorting the Guterres framework
“The Greek Cypriot side should not insist on its old maximalist approach. It is not possible to get anywhere with ‘zero troops and zero guarantees,” Akinci said, adding “they should understand this.”
Akinci was referring to a recent public spat between himself and Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades, the Greek Cypriot leader, with whom he has openly disagreed on the UN parameters set for peace talks to reunite the island in a federation.
Anastasiades says that a set of guidelines, termed the ‘Guterres framework’ after United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres, calls for zero troops and zero guarantees on the island.
But Akinci says the Greek Cypriots are distorting what the UN document had said.
“They are trying to twist my words. They are trying to put forward issues wehich are not in the UN documents,” he said.
The Turkish Cypriot leader says the UN had not put forth a proposal for zero troops and zero guarantees.
The UN had criticised the current security and guarantee arrangement up to a point, namely calling unilateral intervention unworkable.
Greek Cypriots are pushing for the abolition of guarantees, which it is anathema to their community, while Turkish Cypriots do not accept that Turkey would not have a role in any security arrangement, as they view that country as the only state that has recognised and supported them.
“It is out of the question to exclude Turkey from the security adjustments. This is definitely not on the agenda. Unfortunately, this issue is being twisted a lot lately,” Akinci said.
The Guterres framework
The Guterres framework is not an official document but it reportedly lists a number of issues that have to be addressed by both sides in order to come close to an agreement.
But the two sides not only disagree on what exactly was meant by the UNSG, they also disagree on which version should be used, as June 30 and July 4 represented two different points of reference during last year's peace summit prior to the collapse of talks.
An attempt to reunify the island under a bicommunal, bizonal, federal system failed in a referendum in April 2004, days before the Republic of Cyprus joined the European Union.
Turkish Cypriots overwhelmingly voted in favour hoping a reunified country would be their ticket to coming out of the shadows of their breakaway regime, recognized only by Turkey. But Greek Cypriots voted against the plan, citing fears that Turkey was not to be trusted.
Cyprus has been divided by ethnic conflict for over half a century.
It was further divided in July 1974 when Turkey intervened by invading the northern third part of the island, several days following a short-lived military coup engineered by Athens.