Nicos Anastasiades, the newly elected leader of Greek Cyprus, has said that his priority would be to steer his country through the current economic crisis before entering into negotiations with the Turkish Cypriots.
“We need some time to prepare ourselves, but first, the most urgent task is to face the financial crisis,”
He also sent a message to the TRNC stating that it was up to Turkey to help the Turkish Cypriots to re-unify the island.
“My message to Turkish Cypriots is that this needs courage and a lot of help from Turkey. We can turn this small island into a paradise. It is up to us, and it is especially up to Turkey to help Cypriots to restore unification on the island by withdrawing Turkish troops and restoring human rights,” said Anastasiades.
When asked whether he was hopeful about the solution of the Cyprus dispute, Anastasiades said, “I am, indeed, but the people are going to decide.”
Speaking to reporters immediately after he cast his vote, Anastasiades said he was absolutely confident that Greek Cyprus would have a new direction, adding that Sunday’s vote marks a new era for Greek Cyprus.
“[Greek] Cyprus is at a crossroads. The people of [Greek] Cyprus are today exercising their democratic right to determine what direction the country will take and in essence their own future,” said Anastasiades.
The TRNC Foreign, Minister Huseyin Ozgurgun stated that he doesn’t expect Greek Cyprus to start the negotiations with the Turkish side in the upcoming days.
“UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will indeed be effective on this case. But I cannot estimate how and when he will be effective. We have made several calls to Ki-moon that the KKTC is ready to start direct talks. However, there must be a ‘deadline’ for the start and end of the negotiations. The deadline is necessary because open-ended negotiations are always in the interests of the Greek side. These are all delaying tactics of the Greeks,” said Ozgurgun.
Predicting that Anastasiades would be no different from other leaders in the Greek side in terms of delaying tactics, Ozgurgun maintained that Anastasiades would also try to delay the process or even not start the direct talks with the Turkish side until the beginning of the next year.
“The Cyprus issue will turn again into an issue of the Greek side’s delaying tactics and the Turkish side’s willingness to negotiate. I believe we are facing a new term in which the beginning as well as the end are unpredictable. There is one thing clear: The Greek side believes that if they start the negotiations process as late as they can, this would be the best for them,” said Ozgurgun.
When reminded that Anastasiades had supported the Annan Plan proposed by the United Nations in 2004, Ozgurgun replied that Anastasiades was not a leader who favoured a solution to the Cyprus problem. He went on to accuse Anastasiades of casting a ‘yes’ vote, merely to play up to domestic politics.
He continued that Anastasiades would be a tough opponent in the negotiations and would change his position on the Cyprus problem. If presented with the Annan plan now, Anastasiades would reject it, the TRNC minister claimed.