We want a deal that will ensure equality, freedom, security: Turkish Cypriot President Akıncı

We want a deal that will ensure equality, freedom, security: Turkish Cypriot President Akıncı

We want a deal that will ensure equality, freedom, security: Turkish Cypriot President Akıncı

DHA photo

The Turkish Cypriot side of the divided Mediterranean island has reached a critical point and could help reach a solution of the Cyprus issue before the end of 2016, Turkish Cypriot President Mustafa Akıncı has said, adding that any possible deal with the Greek Cypriots must respect “equality, freedom and security.”

Akıncı’s remarks were delivered at a joint press conference with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan late on Aug. 17, as the former paid a working visit to Ankara.

Speaking after a tête-à-tête and a dinner in the presidential complex that lasted around three hours, both Erdoğan and Akıncı underlined need for a solution that would ensure the rights and security of the Turkish Cypriots.

Both presidents said they are working for a settlement to solve the island’s division within 2016, keen not to lose this window of opportunity.

“The Turkish Cypriot side has reached a critical point. Either we reach a solution before the end of 2016 or this window of opportunity will close” ahead of the presidential election campaign on the Greek side of the island, Akıncı said.

“The logical route is to end this story before the end of 2016,” he stressed.

The 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.

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. 

The two guarantors

Touching upon the relationship between the two guarantor states, Greece and Turkey, Akıncı said building new bridges of cooperation between Turkey and Greece, instead of creating new tensions, would be the wisest course.

“Both our future and the future of Turkey is in peace, serenity and cooperation,” he said, recalling that the U.N. General Assembly is set to gather in September and seven critical meetings will be held from Aug. 23 to Sept. 14 as part of the U.N.-led reunification talks for the island.

“If good improvements can be provided at these seven meetings then perhaps after [the U.N. General Assembly] a door to new processes, where we can be more hopeful, could be opened at the end of September,” Akıncı added. 

“I hope the other [Greek] side also gives us this opportunity and they walk on the same line. We would then ensure an agreement that would contain three basic components: Equality, freedom and security. A deal is not possible in any place where equality, security and freedoms do not exist. We want an agreement that ensures these three fundamental elements,” he said.

‘Same generation as Anastasiades’ 

The Turkish Cypriot president recalled that he and Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades were “from the same generation.”

“We are making last-ditch effort of our generation,” he said, warning that if the Greek Cypriot side attempts to unilaterally declare any Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in the waters off of Cyprus before early 2017 then they would be triggering new tensions.

“Then a new U.N. Secretary-General will come on agenda and this window of opportunity will be closed until he learns his file,” he said.

“The logical path is to finalize this matter with conciliation before the end of 2016 and turning the natural wealth in the East Mediterranean into a new field of cooperation, not a means for tension,” Akıncı added.