Turkish Cyprus rejects Greek Cypriots’ EU police force proposal
Ömer Bilge – NICOSIAThe Turkish Cypriot administration has opposed a proposal by the Greek Cypriots for the deployment of some 2,500 police officers from the European Union to operate in the divided eastern Mediterranean island instead of a guarantorship system, as part of the recently-accelerated peace negotiations.
Turkish Cypriot President Mustafa Akıncı, who is the main Turkish Cypriot negotiator in the relaunched talks for a peaceful solution to the more than 40-year-old conflict together with Greek Cypriot counterpart Nicos Anastasiades, rejected the proposal coming from the Greek Cypriot side to make use of 2,500 EU police officers on the island, instead of the current guarantorship system.
The almost half-century-old Cyprus problem erupted after the island was granted independence from Britain in 1960, soon followed by an outbreak of inter-communal clashes in 1963. The island was ethnically 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 after diplomacy failed to end unrest on the island and a coup aimed at unification with Greece.
Britain, together with Turkey and Greece, is one of the guarantor states of Cyprus under a 1960 treaty.
Long-stalled negotiations to find a way to settle the conflict resumed last year following Akıncı’s election in April. The talks restarted last May are focused on establishing a federal model.
According to the proposal reported by Greek Cypriot media, the guarantorship system was proposed to be lifted totally and EU police forces, which will not consist of either Turkish, Greek or British police officers, will be deployed on the island for a period of five years and their tenure can be extended on the request of either the Turkish or Greek Cypriots.
Within the scope of the Greek Cypriot proposal, first a friendship and cooperation deal will be signed between Turkey, Greece and the to-be-formed new federal Cyprus state. On the first day of the deal, 75 percent of the Turkish troops on the island will leave the island, and the remaining 25 percent will stay on the island until an unspecified leaving date, until which they will operate in just one barracks.
When Turkish troops withdraw from the island and a peace deal enters into force, a police force of 2,500 officers from the EU will be deployed to the border between the two founding states of Turkish Cyprus and Greek Cyprus.
The EU police force will be under the auspices of the United Nations and their tenure of five years can be extended upon the demand of the founding states. The police force will cooperate with the federal Cypriot state and will act according to U.N. and EU rules.
Turkey, Greece and U.K. police officers will not take part in the police force, and these three countries will only play a counseling and mediator role in case of any conflict.