Stephen Lillie Outlines UK View On Cyprus Issue

North Cyprus News - Stephen Lillie
[British High Commissioner – Stephen Lillie]
Restarting the Cyprus talks from where they were left off in Crans-Montana is “a recipe for prolonged and fruitless talks”, British High Commissioner Stephen Lillie said, Kibris Postasi reported.

Quoting from an interview Lillie had with Greek daily ‘Kathimerini’, Kibris Postasi wrote that the British High Commissioner outlined the British government’s view on bizonal, bicommunal federation on the island.

We are talking about a largely decentralised federation“, Lillie said, noting that this idea had been mooted by the President of the Greek Cypriot Administration, Nicos Anastasiades. 

He rejected the idea that the UK was considering a confederation as a two-state solution to the Cyprus problem. “It is not enough to constantly repeat the bicommunal bi-zonal federation as a slogan, we must focus on the details of its implementation“, Lillie said. He added that the case for Scottish independence could not be compared with the political situation in Cyprus.

I want to be completely clear, there is no English proposal or plan or draft or anything that might be presented at the table”, said Lilli.

We are talking about informal ideas, not a compact plan. These ideas, all agreed upon under the UN’s bi-zonal bicommunal politically equal federation framework, are sincerely the only sustainable way out. At the same time, it is not enough to repeat the term bi-communal, bi-zonal federation as a slogan. We should focus on the implementation details of such a solution”, the High Commissioner said.

In the ‘Kathimerini’ interview, he was reminded that the Greek Cypriots were greatly concerned that the British were suggesting sovereign equality for the Turkish Cypriots. Lillie said the following: 

We do not support a two-state solution, if that’s what you mean. There is support for this model neither from the Greek Cypriots nor from the international community. To a large extent, we are talking about a decentralised federation, which I do not think is controversial since it was presented by President Anastasiades himself. It is worth further discussion as it will allow the two communities a high degree of autonomy in their daily lives and the maintenance of Cyprus as an internationally recognised, sovereign state. This idea balances, in my mind, the Greek Cypriot need to evolve the Republic of Cyprus (federation) established in 1960 with the Turkish Cypriot desire to have control over their internal affairs”.

He went on to clarify that the British were suggesting compromise by saying:

When I said bridge the abyss, I was referring to the insecurity and miscommunication that prevailed after the Crans-Montana failure and intensified after the election on the Turkish Cypriot side. Despite the differences in their theses, the parties have to negotiate, otherwise there will never be negotiations. We have never supported sharing the distance between a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation and a two-state solution, it is impossible. A bi-zonal bicommunal federation with political equality is currently a compromise between a unitary state and two states. It is described in the numerous resolutions of the UN Security Council, which are the basis for the construction of a detailed and final agreement”.

Asked whether the Greek Cypriot side’s approach was realistic regarding their demand that the negotiations should start from where they left off in Crans- Montana, Lillie replied that “An attempt to start from the point where they left off in Crans-Montana would be a recipe for long and fruitless talks” and added:

But there is a body of work that led to Crans Montana, such as the UN Secretary-General’s six-point framework, and we can still build on those. Flexibility and creativity are needed and we need to focus on the hard points, security and guarantees, and the details of the power-sharing model that contributed to Crans Montana’s failure. We cannot ignore any idea within UN parameters”.

Once again, he strongly rejected the claim made by certain Greek Cypriot political parties that the UK was trying to put forward a case for confederation.

It is out of the question for me to analyse the list item by item, as Mr. Kasoulides gave to your newspaper in an interview where he emphasised that some of these items were not new or controversial. From my point of view, the expression ‘two inside and one state’ is not new either. On one hand, we will have an internationally recognised federal state, which, as a sovereign state, exercises the diplomacy, defence and territorial integrity of Cyprus and some other powers required by its functionality. On the other hand, we have two constituent states that govern areas that affect daily life, such as health, transportation, etc. This is a bi-zonal bi-communal federation. As for the expression ‘None of beings will dominate over the other’; what is the alternative? Can one society exercise dominion over another? It was already agreed in the 2014 Joint Statement that sovereignty would derive equally from Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots”, Lillie said.

He also pointed out that time was not on the side of solving the Cyprus problem, rather if favoured those who were calling for partition.

I have repeatedly said that Cyprus can develop its full perspective only by reunification. However, the Cypriots will have the last word on what will happen”, said Lillie.

Kibris Postasi

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