Being a province of Turkey is not an option: Turkish Cypriot President Akıncı
Barçın Yinanç -ISTANBULVoicing frustration over the collapse of peace talks last summer to reunite Cyprus, the president of Turkish Cyprus said on Sept. 14 that Turkish Cypriots have no intention of entering an open-ended process with an unclear outcome.
Neither annexation to Turkey nor being a minority in Cyprus is an option for Turkish Cypriots, according to Akıncı, who spoke at a conference in Istanbul organized by the Economic Development Foundation (IKV).
Cypriots in the south and in the north will either live under one roof with a federal solution or under two separate roofs side by side, said Akıncı.
Speaking about the future steps to be taken following the collapse of intercommunal talks last summer, Akıncı talked about continuity in diplomacy. However, search for a solution cannot continue for another 50 years as all sides and especially Turkish Cypriots are tired, according to Akıncı.
“The need for a solution is there, but if we keep the same methods and the same approaches, we will end up with the same outcome,” he added.
“I think Greek Cypriots need a serious mentality change,” Akıncı said, adding, “Greek Cypriots really have to question what they really want. Will they see the sharing of power as a big compromise, or will they accept the equality of the Turks.”
Akıncı called on Greek Cypriots to use the presidential elections that will take place in January to question what kind of solution they want to see in the divided island.
Akıncı will meet the U.N. secretary-general in New York this month and tell him that Turkish Cypriots will not give up on their solution-focused policies. “But we have no intention of entering an open-ended process with an unclear outcome,” he said, adding that the Turkish Cypriot side will make an evaluation after the elections in Greek Cyprus.
Answering questions from the audience concerning what lies ahead especially in terms of relations with Turkey, Akıncı said, “Two options are not in the agenda of Turkey and Turkish Cyprus: Turkish Cypriots do not want to be a minority under the unitary structure of Cyprus nor do they want to be the 82nd province of Turkey. This is really not desired by Turkish Cypriots, and in fact, Turkey does not need an 82nd province and new problems. We do need very close and healthy relations with Turkey.”
As to the future of the island, Akıncı said, “Either we will live under one roof in a federal state within the framework of a solution or we will continue to live under different roofs side by side.”
Reactivation of the immovable property commission
Answering a question on the immovable property commission, which was set up in 2005 to provide an effective remedy for claims related to abandoned properties in northern Cyprus, Akıncı said it was highly important to create the financial resources for the efficient working of the commission. Of the 6000 applications made by Greek Cypriots, so far only 10 percent were decided, and approximately 279 million euros were paid for these cases, said Akıncı. “We need to create resources and we also need to mobilize our internal resources. So far, this was a unilateral effort [on the part of Turkey],” said Akıncı.
Improving the investment climate
Meanwhile, Rıfat Hisarcıklıoğlu, the head of the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey (TOBB), emphasized the importance of improving the investment climate in order to increase economic interaction between Turkey and Turkish Cypriots.
Hisarcıklıoglu asked about the reactivation of the investment advisory council set up in 2011 to bring all stakeholders together. According to Hisarcıklıoğlu, tourism and education are two areas with a lot of potential that need focus.
Turkish Cypriot Chamber of Commerce head Fikri Toros talked about the measures that should to be taken in order to increase the number of Turkish tourists travelling to the island.
“There are flights only from seven cities in Turkey,” complained Toros, pointing to the need to start flights from different cities in the mainland. There is also the need to lower prices of plane tickets, according to Toros, which remain relatively high in comparison to prices of other destinations.