The TRNC will continue to work towards further developing its economy and democracy while efforts to reach a comprehensive settlement to the Cyprus problem continue, President Mustafa Akinci said.
In his televised address to launch celebrations marking the 44th anniversary of the 20 July Turkish military interention in Cyprus, Akinci said that “Turkey’s timely military intervention on 20 July 1974, which had followed the coup carried out in Cyprus by Greece five days earlier, had prevented the situation from worsening”. He went on to say that: “Had Turkey not taken this step, the coup would have become worse and in a short period of time the world would have come to accept it. The 20 July military intervention not only prevented the island’s union with Greece but also paved the way for the reinstatement of the Greek Cypriot community’s elected leader, the return of civilian rule and the toppling of the Junta government in Greece”.
The President pointed out that reaching a just solution in the 44 years that have passed since then would have been the best outcome, Akinci said: “Unfortunately the years have not been favourable”. He also noted that repeated efforts to reach a settlement have failed in spite of the Turkish Cypriot side’s constructive and positive approach.
Citing the 2004 Annan Plan and the latest process which collapsed following talks in Crans-Montana, Switzerland last July, Akinci argued: “The UN has repeatedly seen which side has worked in support of a settlement and which side has tried to hinder the efforts. However despite the fact that this was seen and known it was not reflected in the UN report. To be shown equally responsible with the Greek Cypriot side has been a true injustice to the Turkish Cypriot side”.
He said that had been a year since the talks collapsed at Crans-Montana, the Greek Cypriot side had unfortunately not changed its negative stance since then. The President also said that to make matters worse, the Greek Cypriot side had been creating obstacles and difficulties for the Turkish Cypriot side, whether it has been efforts to harmonise with the EU or other efforts to build confidence between the two communities.
“A real transformation of mentality is needed for this. I am repeatedly underlining the importance of this. Unfortunately they do not want to listen”, he added.
Also touching on the upcoming visit to Cyprus by the UN Secretary General’s consultant on the Cyprus problem, Jane Holl Lute, Akinci explained that the UN envoy’s mission was a temporary one aimed at probing the possibility of resuming talks and drawing a new road map for the period ahead. “Ms Lute is not a new permanent advisor…in other words she is not a new Espen Barth Eide”, he stressed, adding that the UN envoy will also be meeting with three guarantor powers as well.
“As I have always stated, if there is a problem somewhere, the search for a solution will always continue. However it is high time for all parties involved, particularly the UN, to seriously question why efforts for the past 50 years have failed to yield any results. It must be understood that recognising one of the two sides on the island as the sole legal owner of the island and isolating the other community will not serve efforts to reach a solution but only the continuation of the status quo”, he said.
Akinci said that the Turkish Cypriot side will continue to pursue the principles of equality, freedom and security in the period ahead. “We shall however not accept open-ended, endless talks or become part of a process without deadlines or time frames”, he stressed.
Akinci emphasised that it would be wrong to postpone everything until after a settlement is reached on the island. “Our strategic choice, of course, is a settlement in Cyprus but this is not only up to us. The Greek Cypriot side particularly needs a serious change of view. It is my wish and hope that the Greek Cypriot side adopts a new understanding in the period ahead so that we may pave the way for a lasting and just solution”, he noted, adding that efforts to further develop the country’s economy and democracy will continue in the meantime.
“While the Cyprus problem lies at the foundations of many of the problems we experience, there is much we can do independently from the Cyprus problem. We need to do this, we can do this and we can succeed”, he stressed.
Akinci concluded his address by wishing “the Turkish Cypriot people a happy 20 July Peace and Freedom Day and remembering all the martyrs who sacrificed their lives for the freedom and security of the Turkish Cypriot people”.