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29 March, 2023
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Common interest for talks but disagreements remain

Anastasiades expressed satisfaction that his proposals on the devolution of powers has found a fertile ground

Newsroom / CNA

President Anastasiades said that there is a positive climate and a common basis on which the talks for a Cyprus settlement can take place, noting, at the same time, that disagreements on serious issues remain, but there is an agreement that differences cannot be bridged without dialogue.

In statements to journalists at the Presidential Palace, after returning from his meeting with Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci, President Anastasiades said, replying to questions, that the meeting as regards the prospects for the resumption of the negotiations took place in a creative and sincere climate.

He went on to say that they reaffirmed that the basis for finding a settlement is the one agreed in 1977, which is a bizonal, bicommunal federation, "as long as, as I have said, it will lead to a functional, viable state, fully compatible with everything that applies at the other 193 UN member states."

Anastasiades expressed his satisfaction for the fact that "the proposal for the decentralization of the powers of the central government towards the constituent state has found a fertile ground and will be one of the issues that will be discussed during the negotiations."

He also said that among the issues they discussed were those concerning the hydrocarbons, adding that the issue he primarily raised is that of the illegal actions of Turkey by which convergences that have been achieved between the two communities, which provide that the Exclusive Economic Zone must abide by the Law of the Sea Convention of 1982, are being questioned.

At the same time, I noted that illegal actions and the questioning of sovereign rights cannot create a positive climate, but on the contrary intensify suspicion and Greek Cypriots’ concerns, he added.

The President said that they discussed about the Turkish Cypriot leader’s proposal to create a joint committee for the co-management of hydrocarbons and that he used substantiated arguments to support his position that something like that cannot be accepted, since sovereign states have an Exclusive Economic Zone and not any committee, and only sovereign states issue licenses and decide about their EEZ.

Anastasiades said that he did not just reject or refused to accept the proposal which Akinci made but made counter-proposals himself which indeed create a feeling of security for the other community, as regards the benefits which result from fact that the Republic of Cyprus has been exercising its sovereign rights in its EEZ.

“We have reached the conclusion as regards the essence of the Cyprus problem that the prospects and preconditions are being created to continue our cooperation with Ms Lute with a view to formulate the terms of reference, despite any disagreements which remain on important issues, so that we could have a trilateral meeting between the UNSG, myself and Akinci, with a view to see how we will further proceed to create the preconditions for the resumption of the negotiations on the Cyprus problem,” he added.

Referring to the issue of Confidence Building Measures that was discussed, Anastasiades said that he had the opportunity to elaborate on the problems created due to initiatives which are diametrically opposed to the UN resolutions, as those by Turkish Cypriot politicians Kudret Ozersay and Ersin Tatar as regards Famagusta.

I reiterated that if we want to have a really positive climate of trust and prospects, the Confidence Building Measures must address the essence of the problems of the Cypriot citizens, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, and not be symbolical, he noted.

This is why I raised again the issue of Famagusta, reiterating the two proposals which I submitted in the past, the need to open the crossing points at Kokkina and Pyroi, and all of the other 21 issues which I submitted during our meeting in February, he added.

Anastasiades said that he told Akinci that a climate that will favour the resumption of the negotiations will be created not only through de-escalation but also through the termination of the illegal acts of Turkey, so that, not through words but through deeds, Ankara will positively contribute to the creation of a positive climate and help overcome problems that have to do with its own responsibilities on issues such as guarantees, the troops, and other important issues related to matters which are substantive for a settlement of the Cyprus problem.

Each side maintained and reiterated what it deems as substantive preconditions. What is needed is good faith, respect to the international law, the European law, to the establishment of a state with a federal structure that will fulfill all preconditions which such political systems respect and implement, he added.

Responding to a question the President said that he told Akinci that apart from the other proposals he submitted, which are particularly creative in order to safeguard the Turkish Cypriots’ rights, he is ready to brief him about any developments with regard to the decisions of the Republic of Cyprus related to its plans in the energy sector.

Asked about Akinci’s reactions the President said that he did not want to get into details, adding that what is important is the message which he gave to Akinci, that will be conveyed to Ankara.

He went on to say that Akinci insists on his own proposal but seems to be open to examine Anastasiades’ counter-proposals.

Asked about the positive vote issue, the President said that this is one of the issues on which there is still disagreement between the two sides. “I am pursuing decentralization with a view to create a functional Republic which will not be dependent on either side and I have explained that political equality as interpreted by the UN resolutions, the Security Council decisions and the Secretary General’s reports does not mean numerical equality." he added.

But insistence on a single positive vote nullifies the non-numerical equality, and one community will be subject to the other’s decisions, he noted.

Asked if they talked about the resumption of the talks from where the point they were left in Crans-Montana, the President replied: “Of course. For the moment we are trying to create the preconditions for the resumption of the dialogue on the basis of certain parameters, the terms of reference.”

Invited to say if the terms of reference constitute a precondition for the trilateral meeting or is a different issue, the President said that “it will lead us to the trilateral meeting. Our cooperation with Lute, the preparation which we are seeking will allow the SG to call for the trilateral meeting, the meeting of the SG with the two leaders, so that it will be made clear whether an informal meeting can be convened, under which terms, with a view to prepare the ground so that we will be able to talk about the resumption of substantive negotiations on the particular basis that has been agreed."

Invited to comment the reference in the statement of the UN spokesperson in Cyprus on behalf of the two leaders, issued after the meeting to “negotiations leading to a settlement with a sense of urgency” the President said that there is an urgency for the illegal actions to stop if negotiations are to begin the soonest possible, to bear results the soonest possible, and as long there is mutual respect and acceptance of basic principles which govern the functioning of states, with a federal or other system”.

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