Negotiations in Switzerland high risk former negotiators say

The territorial negotiations in Switerland are full of risks, a joint statement issued by former Turkish Cypriot negotiators Osman Ertug and Ergun Olgun says.

In their statement, they argue that in an uncertain and complex situation, if the Turkish Cypriot side sets out terms using a map and numbers in Switzerland, it will make unilateral and unnecessary concessions to the Greek Cypriot side, which will open the door to a highly unbalanced and extreme situation.

On the eve of the UN-led leaders’ meeting in Mont Pèlerin which begins on 7th November, Ergun and Olgun said that they saw the need to share with the public some of their thoughts and evaluations on the Cyprus talks.

Stressing that it was announced that the meeting will focus on the territory chapter and for the first time, maps and numbers will be discussed, Ertug and Olgun recalled President Mustafa Akinci’s statement that the meeting in Switzerland will be the last but one step, and his spokesman Burcu’s statement that talks will not be held using a map and figures before a date is set for the five-party meeting on Security and Guarantees chapter. They added that however, the Greek Cypriot side insists that they do not accept a five-party meeting.

The joint statement further reads:

“From the beginning, since the 1977 high level agreements, the issues of territory and security have always been interrelated. Besides, it is pointed out in the joint declaration on February 11, 2014, that all the issues will be discussed as they are linked altogether. As a matter of fact, the Greek Cypriot side insisted that the property chapter be discussed with the territorial adjustments. In a statement last week, Greek Cypriot spokesman Nicos Christodoulides said that: ‘talks on the property issue cannot be concluded before discussing territory’. The stance of the Greek Cypriot side, which rejects the relationship between the territory issue and the political/economic/physical security issues, should be vigorously contradicted.”

Referring to the publication of different maps, percentages and village names in the international media and the Greek Cypriot press, Ertug and Olgun argued that they are trying to create various perceptions on this issue prior to the meeting in Switzerland. They also said that it is impossible to assume that these “speculative news” reports are not linked with official Greek Cypriot sources.

Ertug and Olgun expressed concern that the Turkish Cypriot side may have decided to return Guzelyurt (Morphou) and Karpaz and has agreed to place various other areas under the federal administration’s control and added: “If that is the case, then this is an extremely undesirable situation and contradicts the bi-zonality principle, which is one of the most fundamental principles”.

Furthermore, referring to the return of Greek Cypriots to the north under the “right of habitation” and “lawful residence”, the joint statement argued the importance of the Turkish Cypriots being the majority community in their founding state and added: “It is common knowledge that the parameter on clear majority also applies to ownership. Otherwise, talking about the principle of bi-zonality will be impossible”.

Ertug and Olgun, in their joint statement, described also that political equality is one of the fundamental principles of a possible agreement, stressing the importance President Akinci attaches to the system of a rotating presidency and the effective participation of the two partners in the decision-making process.

Demokrat Bakis

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