President Mustafa Akinci’s spokesperson, Baris Burcu, has described how the Cyprus talks are progressing, adding the hope that a solution can be found by early 2016.
In an interview with Greek Cypriot publication ‘Cyprus Weekly’, he mentions the fact that President Akinci had surprised many by saying that the 1974 peace keeping mission by Turkey was also a war.
“There is no doubt that, even to us who refer to it as a Peace Operation, it really was a war”, he said.
“It’s not the first time that Mr Akinci has made such statements,” Burcu explained.
“He has devoted himself to a peaceful future of Cyprus and the best way of doing it is to show empathy, to understand and share the feelings of the other side. It doesn’t matter what is the theme or the title… He’s always the same Akinci.”
President Akinci repeated the statement in front of Turkey’s President, RecepTayipp Erdogan, who was visiting for the 20th July commemorations.
Despite an initial difference of opinion between the Turkish president and Akinci about the ‘motherland’ relationship with the TRNC, Akinci’s spokesman said that relations have improved.
Referring to their first visit to Erdogan in Ankara after Akinci’s election as president, Burcu said: “His intentions were also good on Cyprus problem… we received more energy and synergy from [Erdogan].”
Burcu noted however that Erdogan “didn’t mention the Treaty of Guarantee in his statement”.
Maintaining the 1960 Treaty of Guarantee, which gives unilateral rights of intervention to Turkey, Greece and the UK, has always been one of Turkey’s red lines.
He said that Akinci’s proposals will be put forward at a later stage when all parties (including the three guarantors as well as Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots) are at the table.
“Guarantees are not a taboo. It has to be touched, discussed and negotiated. Not now but at the right time, when all parties are at the table.”
Burcu said: “On the issue of governance and power-sharing we have almost come to a finalisation, with the exception of some small details.
When we come to the same stage on the property issue, which our Greek Cypriot colleagues are very interested in, maybe we will decide to make joint detailed statements to the people.”
He added that they were focusing heavily on making progress on the property issue “in the coming days”.
As regards the chapter of territory (the delineation of constituent state borders in the united Cyprus federation), only some issues are being discussed at present.
“There are two aspects in the territorial issue. The one is the criteria and the other is the percentages and the names of villages, the maps. We discuss now the criteria, but we don’t mention the percentages and the name of villages, we’ll do that later,” he said, noting that “it is a very sensitive issue for both sides”.
Financing the solution has been given greater focus than in the past.
Burcu said that they had spoken to UN Special Adviser Espen Barth Eide and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker about it.
“Let me remind you that Juncker, talking on behalf of EU, said that there will be a contribution,” he said.
“Nowadays, the international community needs a good example for the region. We live in a volatile region and by solving the problem, Cyprus could be a good example of stability.”
Burcu confirmed that the atmosphere in the negotiations remains positive.
“We have a good feeling, and I’m talking for both sides not only ours, we have good trust,” adding that meetings between the two leaders are “very productive”.
Asked when there might be a meeting with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (which would be an indication of significant progress in the negotiations), he said he hoped that they could:“possibly reach this stage by the end of October, early November.
And hopefully by the end of the year, or the first months of the next year we will have reached a solution. You [the Greek Cypriots] have elections in May 2016 and we need to take this into account.
We have to preserve the positive atmosphere. Because if there is no positive atmosphere, if there is no hope, if there is no trust, nothing can be delivered”, Burcu concluded.