Turkish Cyprus blames Greeks for failure of peace talks

Turkish Cyprus blames Greeks for failure of peace talks

MONT PELERIN, Switzerland
Turkish Cyprus blames Greeks for failure of peace talks Turkish Cyprus has blamed Greeks and Greek Cypriots for the failure of long-anticipated peace talks to end one of the world’s longest running conflicts. 

Speaking to members of press after the second round of intensified peace talks in Switzerland’s Mont Pelerin ended with failure to produce a peace deal, Turkish Cypriot presidential spokesperson Barış Burcu said the Greek Cypriot side had come to the talks unprepared. 

“If the [Greek Cypriot side] had put half of the performance and will that our president [Turkish Cypriot President Mustafa Akıncı] and our team has put forward as a whole for a solution, then we would have been talking about different topics,” Burcu was quoted as saying by state-run Anadolu Agency in the early hours of Nov. 22. 

Turkish Cypriot President Mustafa Akıncı and his Greek Cypriot counterpart, Nicos Anastasiades, had been engaged in intensified talks in Mont Pelerin for a second time in under two weeks but the negotiations failed to produce a result, the United Nations said in a statement late Nov. 21. 

“Despite their best efforts, they have not been able to achieve the necessary further convergences on criteria for territorial adjustment that would have paved the way for the last phase of the talks,” the statement said. 

‘Tactic thrown at us’

Criticizing Greece’s stance during the one-week long recession between the two intensified talks in Switzerland, Burcu said remarks by Greek officials that they would not attend a quintet conference if the guarantorship principle was not canceled and a date for the withdrawal of Turkish soldiers was not set was a “tactic that was thrown at us.” 

“It was not possible for us to stay silent about this, and we wanted to remind [the Greek Cypriots] why we came to Mont Pelerin in the first place,” he said. 

“Wasn’t the whole goal of this work [intensified talks in Mont Pelerin] to go to the final phase [the five-party talks]? Isn’t it clear who will attend the final phase? Is there any logic for Greece to put forth such a demand at this stage?” asked Burcu. 

Greek acts ‘irresponsible’

Stating that Greece’s attitude at the negotiations was “irresponsible,” Burcu said Athens had sabotaged the peace talks. 

“This has no other name, it was a huge example of irresponsibility. It was a situation that wasted energy and time but we could not ignore it. We saw a similar attitude from Anastasiades regarding the territories issue. We had agreed in principle with them [the Greek Cypriots and the U.N.] that the territories issue would be solved at the five-party conference,” said Burcu. 

The first round of the intensified talks in a hotel near Lake Geneva was held from Nov. 7 to 11 and ended with a U.N. statement saying that “significant progress” had been achieved during the one-week talks.
Following a request from Anastasiades, a second round of intensified talks was held on Nov. 20-21. 

If the talks in Geneva had proven to be successful, a five-party summit would have been held with the participation of Turkey, Greece and the United Kingdom, as the guarantor powers, apart from the Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot administrations. The thorny issues of territories and guarantorship were expected to be solved at the summit. 

Turkish Cypriot’s territory proposal ‘very rational, helpful’

Burcu said the Turkish Cypriot side had put forth a “very rational” and “helpful” proposal regarding the territories issue but that the Greek Cypriots had “demanded too much.”

Reminding that no official statement had previously been made regarding the percentage of territories that would be kept in both sides’ hands after a bi-communal and bi-zonal Cyprus federation was built, Burcu said Turkish Cypriot’s proposal was 29.2 percent. 

“They came to the negotiations with an attitude as if the whole territory chapter was taken for granted. But the logic of our consensus and meetings was not this,” he said. 

The island was divided between a Greek south and a Turkish north when the Turkish military intervened in 1974 under the terms of the 1960 Treaty of Guarantee in response to an Athens-backed coup aiming to unite the island with Greece.

Stating that he was “experiencing one of the biggest disappointments in my life,” Burcu said the United Nations team, that oversaw the peace negotiations, was also “as sad as we are.”

“The two sides have decided to return to Cyprus and reflect on the way forward,” the U.N. statement read. 
“The special adviser of the secretary-general (SASG), Mr. Espen Barth Eide, will bring these developments to the attention of the Secretary-General [Ban Ki-moon],” it added.

Peace rally held in Cyprus 

As the peace talks were continuing in Mont Pelerin, hundreds of Turkish and Greek Cypriots demonstrated for peace on Nov. 21 waving peace flags and dancing to Cypriot folk music. 

Organizers said the event inside the United Nations-controlled buffer zone dividing the capital, Nicosia, aimed to show the determination of Cypriots from both sides for an agreement ending more than four decades of division.

“Fear is holding us back,” said Greek Cypriot Rania Georgiou, The Associated Press reported. “Our future must be a shared one.”