President Nicos Anastasiades has said that the Turkish Cypriot side’s demand for political equality leads to political inequality, arising from the demand of one side to overrule the other side. In this piece of double-think, Anastasiades said that political equality for the Turkish Cypriots had been recognised for decades.
In his interview with Greek Cypriot daily ‘Politis’, President Mustafa Akinci said he was waiting to hear details from Anastasiades, about his idea of a decentralised federation, when they hold an informal meeting on Tuesday 26 February.
The principle of decentralisation speaks for itself, President Anastasiades responded. From then on it is a matter of negotiation for what powers should be allocated to the two constituent states, so that the two communities feel more secure, and that one will not cause problems for the other, Anastasiades said.
President Akinci, in his interview, emphasised that a bi-communal, bi-zonal federation was the only way to reunite the island. And the issue of guarantees could not be addressed before assurances were given that the Turkish Cypriots would be equal partners in a federal state.
He also dismissed, as a waste of time, Anastasiades request that he produce a document with convergences and disagreements reached thus far. Akinci said that this had already been done and there was no point in reproducing it. Written proposals had been presented and that was a matter of the past. The way forward was to find common ground, he said.
Matters had not improved since the breakdown of negotiations at Crans-Montana, Akinci said, adding that Cyprus did not deserve to remain a divided country within the EU.
“If we can not agree on the issue of political equality that is crucial for the Turkish Cypriots, then I cannot go ahead, and I say it very clearly. Also, I am not ready to start an open-ended procedure.”
Akinci said that under a federation, there would be two constituent states that will deal with issues such as health, education, culture, sport etc. with central responsibilities for the central government on issues that concern both sides. “So what is the logic of trying to differentiate some of them as vital to one community and others not?” he said.
“But now we understand that he does not agree with the central government either. Think of a meeting of the Cabinet where everything can go through a simple majority. This is not a federation but a single state.”
“If we are talking about majority decisions then we are talking about a single state. If we do not have common responsibilities in the central government then we are talking about two states. But if we are talking about a federation then it is necessary for both parties to participate effectively,” he said.
“We want tangible ideas so that we can understand each other. If the goal is simply joint representation in the EU, the UN and very limited powers [in the central state] so that they do not need the consent of both sides, then we are talking about two states. If this is his idea, tell us and we will evaluate it with good will.”
Referring to reports that his own relationship with Turkey has been strained since Crans-Montana, Akinci said Turkey was important but it did not mean his views and theirs had to match 100 per cent of the time.
“There may be moments when I see things differently and if I feel the need I can take initiatives. What is frustrating and disappointing is that I did not see any reciprocation from my Greek Cypriot interlocutor,” he added. “I have to say that at Crans-Montana, Turkey tried to help. It is no secret and the United Nations, the EU saw it.”
Regarding the lack of trust between the two leaders, Akinci said trust can be built “not with words but with deeds”. “The Cyprus issue is not our personal concern. We speak on behalf of our communities about the future of this country. We do not have to act on our emotions. These are valid but only up to a point,” he said.