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Instead of progress, a return to blame game

By Lefteris Adilinis

Efforts for a significant movement towards a Cyprus deal in Switzerland suffered a blow on Monday. Instead of registering progress after the tabling of written positions on all aspects of the political problem, the Turkish and Greek Cypriot delegations had a very public spat, criticising each other for tabling insufficient proposals that were inadequate to lead to an agreement.

The public comments by the heads of delegation after Monday night’s session are indicative.

RoC President Nicos Anastasiades told journalists: “I wish I was able to say that things are as we wanted them to be”.

Greek Foreign Minister Nicos Kotzias only said: “I wonder what I could say to you”.

Turkish FM Mevlut Cavusoglu said: “I admire your patience”, while the usually very talkative UN envoy, Espen Barth Eide, refrained from making any statements.

Late in the afternoon, and a few hours after the exchange of documents by all delegations, Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu approached representatives of the #UniteCyprusNow initiative outside of the Conference venue in the Alpine resort of Crans-Montana.

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He said the Greek Cypriot proposals were one step back, whereas the Turkish document went one step further towards a compromise.

About 15 minutes later, the RoC government spokesman, Nikos Christodoulides, said Cavusoglu’s statement did not reflect reality and challenged the Turkish Foreign Minister to publicise Turkey’s proposals and openly discuss them.

Later on, Greek Cypriot sources said that the talks were not in crisis, but Christodoulides just wanted to point out that Cavusoglu had broken the blackout on information that the delegations had agreed to during Monday’s morning session.

The substance
Before the public spat the two Cyprus sides, guarantors Turkey, Greece and Britain, as well as the EU representatives, had tabled and exchanged their proposals on security and implementation of the solution.

Turkey, Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots also tabled proposals for the internal aspects of the problem, mainly on the three thorny issues of property, governance and European affairs.

TURKISH PROPOSALS: On security, the Cyprus Weekly has learned that the Greek Cypriot side and Greece felt that the Turkish proposals were vague, lacking the analysis, details and the depth which Nicosia and Athens were expecting.

  • On the crucial aspect of guarantees, the Turkish document suggested adapting to today’s needs (instead of abolishing) the relevant 1960 Treaty.
  • On troop withdrawal, although there was a hint about keeping small Turkish and Greek contingents on the island, there was no mention of a “sunset clause” (a firm date for the troops to leave). Ankara suggested the guarantors review the situation after 15 years.
  • In general Turkey’s proposals were built on the ideas Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu had presented verbally last Thursday and were deemed unsatisfactory by RoC President Anastasiades. Greek Foreign Minister Kotzias had gone one step further, saying the Turkish proposal was “blackmail”.

GREEK CYPRIOT PROPOSALS: The Cyprus Weekly understands that President Anastasiades’ proposals were along the following lines:

  • Who will implement the agreement and with what means. GCs want a monitoring committee to be set up – with no participation by guarantor powers.
  • An international monitoring committee, with the UN Security Council or the UN Secretary General (UNSG) himself acting if the implementation process does not go as planned.
  • Treaties of Alliance and Guarantees should be abolished from day one.
  • Separate agreement for troop withdrawal or a Withdrawal Treaty, with a mechanism under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter. A significant number of troops should go immediately. Turkish and Greek contingents (650/950 troops respectively) could remain temporarily, so long there is a clear date set for them to go.

GREEK PROPOSALS: Foreign Minister, Nicos Kotzias was quite open on Monday morning. He said the Greek delegation tabled the following:

  • There should be no intervention rights marring the independence of a federal Cyprus.
  • The Turkish troops should leave Cyprus in different stages.
  • A Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation for Cyprus should be established along with a Treaty of Withdrawal of Troops.
  • Greece could be involved in mechanisms to monitor the implementation of the agreement only with regard to monitoring the withdrawal of troops.

Internal matters
On Monday afternoon, and after the exchange of documents, Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci met to comment on each others’ proposals. They mainly offered comments on the other five internal matters but they also touched upon the security proposals.

The Cyprus Weekly has learned that although Turkey was vague on security and guarantees, its proposals on the internal issues were quite detailed, mainly on the following points with regard to properties, governance and EU affairs:

  • The current users of properties should have extensive rights. (Greek Cypriots insist that initial owners should have the first say).
  • The Presidency of the federal state should be rotating (Anastasiades still hopes to trade a rotating presidency with the security and territorial aspects of the problem).
  • Turkish nationals living in Cyprus should be granted equal EU rights with Greeks – that is the same as those enjoyed by Greek nationals living in Cyprus (Greek Cypriots appear to reject such a request).
  • Turkey’s proposal offers very few insights into the territorial adjustments. There is nothing concrete on the table. Turkey simply says the issue should be discussed in due course.

Eide criticised
The broad assessment of all sides taking part in the Conference on Cyprus was that Monday was not a good day.
They also appeared to agree that UN Special Adviser Espen Barth Eide’s Monday morning’s proposal, for the Prime Ministers (PMs) of guarantors to be in Switzerland by Wednesday, was a very bad idea. Delegations pointed out that PMs could only come to Crans-Montana to seal a deal, not to salvage one.

Eide has also been blamed for allegedly leaking information to Bloomberg News with the aim of putting pressure on the Greek Cypriot side.

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One comment

  1. Greek Cypriot side doesn’t want a solution. Let’s not pretend.