Turkey ‘will not step back on guarantees in Cyprus’ until Turks assured of security
ANKARATurkey will “not step back” from guaranteeing the rights of Turkish Cypriots before the ongoing talks in the Swiss Alps produce the necessary security guarantees, Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmuş has stated.
“Turkey will not step back on the security and guarantees issue or change its position on the matter unless the Turkish community [in Cyprus] is taken under a guarantee [at the ongoing talks],” Kurtulmuş said after a cabinet meeting in Ankara on July 3.
“Maps or land issues can be handled within the framework of Turkey’s approach on guarantees and security,” he added, as the peace talks entered a tough second week at Switzerland.
Officials were trying on July 3 to crack the issues that have blocked an accord since Cyprus was divided in 1974.
Turkish Cypriot Mustafa Akıncı, Greek Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades are joined at the talks in Crans-Montana by top diplomats from Cyprus’ “guarantors” - Greece, Turkey and Britain - whose input is pivotal to any agreement.
Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias said all sides are aware of their responsibilities to strike a deal that would allow Cyprus to become what U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres referred to as a “normal state.” Officials said Guterres’ presence at the talks last week helped nudge the process forward after several days when progress was slow.
Akıncı repeated that this week will be decisive for the island’s future.
Key to an overall accord is what will happen to the 35,000-plus troops Turkey has kept in the island’s Turkish Cypriot north since 1974. Greek Cypriots are prioritizing an agreement on security.
The Turkish Cypriots consider the troops as undergirding their security and want them to stay. Turkey has said a full troop withdrawal is a non-starter.
But Greek Cypriots, along with Greece, want all Turkish troops they see as a threat removed and military intervention rights accorded to the guarantors under the island’s 1960 constitution abolished. They propose instead a U.N. Security Council backed international police force to keep the peace once the island is reunified.
Turkish Cypriots want all remaining issues - including their demand to take turns holding the federal presidency with Greek Cypriots - to be negotiated interdependently in a give-and-take process.