Turkey’s newly appointed Prime Minister Binali Yildirim, during his first official visit to the TRNC put a new slant on Akinci’s visit to Istanbul, which created a hiatus in the Cyprus negotiations. Yildirim asked that Akinci should not only meet with President Erdogan but also the Greek Prime Minister Tsipras and President Anastasiades in Greece.
Yildirim met with President Mustafa Akinci, Prime Minister Huseyin Ozgurgun, Assembly Speaker Sibel Siber and visited the tombs of the late former Turkish Cypriot leaders Dr Fazil Kucuk and Rauf Denktas, as well as the cemetery of the Turkish fighters who died in the 1974 Turkish intervention in Cyprus.
Akinci, in a joint press conference with Yildirim after a working lunch, said that he had a very sincere and beneficial meeting with the new Turkish prime minister. He expressed his satisfaction that Yildirim paid his first visit abroad to the TRNC just like his predecessors, adding that there is no doubt that this visit will further improve the already good relations between the two countries.
Commenting on the Cyprus talks, Akinci said that they have reached a period of historical significance in Cyprus and that there is a critical seven month period ahead of them. Akinci further said: “As we have stressed many times, this period should be utilised by working very hard with sincerity, in order not to miss the opportunity for a solution. As it happens until today, we are ready to work with all our strength in order for a federal agreement based on bi-zonal, bi-communal and political equality to be determined. A settlement that will ensure our equality, freedom and security is not only a necessity for our island, but also for our territory, and it also has the potential to create important opportunities that will pave the road especially for economic cooperation.”
Stressing that he is pleased to see from his meeting with Yildirim that Turkey’s support for the Cyprus negotiations, as well as its determination to see a solution, is continuing unchanged, Akinci said: “It is very important that Turkey stands behind the Turkish Cypriots on the Cyprus settlement, just like it does on other issues”. Akinci wished that other related parties, particularly Greece, do not withhold their constructive contribution for a just solution in Cyprus.
Akinci further said that Yildirim is one of the leading names who proved that politics has an aspect that can be exercised by means of technical creativity as well; that while he was serving as the Minister of Transport, he was frequently referred to when in office and he succeeded in highlighting that politics is to produce services for people. Akinci added: “I wish this characteristic feature of Mr Prime Minister sets an example for the ministries, both in Turkey and in the TRNC, focused particularly on technical issues”.
Yildirim, for his part, said that Turkey, as a guarantor country expects with sincerity that the “two people, who are joint owners of the island”, will be able to reach a solution within a year. He stressed that the Cyprus settlement will seriously contribute to the security, stability, cooperation and prosperity in the region, and only after the solution the real potentials of Cyprus will emerge, and the potentials of the natural resources on the island will be jointly utilised.
Yildirim said that the Turkish Cypriot side showed good will and determination from the beginning of the negotiations and is the side that always takes initiatives in order for a just, equal and lasting solution to be reached. He noted that the ongoing negotiations are not made up only of six chapters, but a permanent solution is only possible through the understanding of an equal partnership and a belief in a common future. Yildirim continued: “For this reason, the results should be reached with sincerity, the sides should not forget to see each other as their future partners and that they should comply at the maximum extent to live one next to the other and to respect the rights of each other”.
Reminding that the Cyprus problem, which has lasted more than half a century, is continuing within the framework of the good offices of the UN Secretary General, Yildirim noted that the expectations of the Turkish side and the international community on the issue of wasting time have reached their limit.
On economic development, Yildirim said that there are numerous joint projects being conducted between the two countries, adding, however, that infrastructure projects alone are not enough. “We also need to focus on projects higher up. More cultural and educational projects are needed for the people of the two countries to bond more. Over three million people travel to and from the TRNC annually. There are thousands of students studying here. All these are extremely important elements strengthening the bond between the two countries”, Yildirim said.