Turkish Cyprus leader not hopeful on talks
NICOSIA- Hürriyet Daily News
There will be no talks after July 1, says Turkish Cyprus’ Eroğlu.There will be no use continuing negotiations with Greek Cyprus after July 1, the day southern Cyprus assumes the EU’s term presidency, if a solution to the island’s division cannot be found before then, Turkish Cyprus’ president has said.
“If we cannot reach an agreement before July 1 then there will be no meaning in us continuing negotiations,” Derviş Eroğlu told a group of journalists visiting him in Nicosia on Feb. 25. “The United Nations and the Security Council should come to a conclusion. They have a set target and they failed to realize it. The main reason for the failure has been the approach of Greek Cyprus.”
With Greek Cyprus assuming the term presidency July 1, Turkey has already announced it will not join activities organized by the presidency and will suspend political dialogue for the duration of the term. Equally important is the fact that Greek Cyprus will hold presidential elections in early 2013, and if current leader Demetris Christofias is willing to run for a second term, he will have to make electoral alliances with other political parties.
“His possible allies are very strongly advocating the withdrawal of Turkish troops and are against the rotating presidency. He will have to accept their conditions if he wants to be re-elected in the second round of elections. Which means a complete change of parameters in the process we have started with Christofias,” Eroğlu said.
Turkish Cypriots tired of talks
This is already Christofias’ tactic, Eroğlu said, adding that the Greek Cypriot believes that suspended talks would be revitalized one or two years later upon pressure from the international community.
“Turkish Cypriots are fed up with unending peace talks. Decades-old unsuccessful rounds of talks only increased the hopelessness and uncertainty over their future,” Eroğlu said.
Because of that, Eroğlu plans to address Turkish Cypriots on July 1 and call on them “to [protect] the state formed in 1983.”
Reluctant to talk about a “two-state approach” in a more open way or withdraw from negotiations, Eroğlu said discussing other options while there was still room for an agreement would not be right even though the possibility of a solution is becoming more remote by the day.
Having returned from New York, where he held intensive talks with Christofias under the auspices of U.N. General-Secretary Ban Ki-moon, Eroğlu outlined the upcoming phases of the reunification talks. In the first phase, Ban is expected to report to the U.N. Security Council on recent developments. Then his representative, Alexander Downer, will write an assessment report in late March to express his findings on the two parties’ performances in the discussions on three vital issues of reunification: power-sharing and government, citizenship and property.
International conference difficult
If the report is positive, Ban will invite the two parties to hold an international conference, where a draft agreement will be finalized. As such, the conference appears to be most significant but the two sides differ in their ideas for the format of such a meeting as well.
Turkish Cyprus believes that aside from the two communities, the three guarantor countries, Turkey, Greece and the United Kingdom, should also join, but southern Cyprus wants to expand the scope and include the European Union and members of the U.N. Security Council as well.
“They also want to have a representative from the Republic of Cyprus apart from the two communities, which, of course, is not acceptable for us,” Eroğlu said.