Significant progress on security and guarantees could be on the cards, after Turkey has apparently modified its longstanding opposition on this thorny issue of the Cyprus problem.
Diplomatic sources close to the negotiations told The Cyprus Weekly that in September a high-level Turkish government official has informed all parties involved about the new position.
The official stressed that a system of guarantees for a reunited Cyprus shouldn’t necessarily have a military element. In this context, the guarantor powers could protect constitutional order in Cyprus without military means.
In case there are security concerns, the guarantors could intervene strictly by diplomatic means or, for instance, by imposing sanctions.
The Cyprus Weekly understands that the Turkish Cypriots have repeated the above position on the table, insisting also that guarantees should be imposed for at least a period of time. Greek Cypriots seek to abolish guarantees as a matter of principle.
Nevertheless, they are ready to accept that the controversial system could be abolished when a solution is implemented. Considering that the implementation period could take up to five years, there is room for a mutually acceptable compromise.
All issues on the table
Nicos Anastasiades and Mustafa Akinci have started a round of intensive talks and all outstanding aspects of the problem will be on the table. The property issue and the effort to define criteria for restitution, compensation and exchange of properties was discussed at the first meeting on November 2, as well as on Thursday.
Related issues such as territorial adjustments and settlers were also discussed on Thursday.
During November, the sides will try to find common ground on issues such as the executive, the competences of the federal and the constituent states, as well as the sensitive issue of signing international agreements by the federal units.
Mustafa Akinci and his team still argue that the constituent states should have majorities in population and land ownership. They still seek derogations from the acquis communautaire and would like to see the property section of the agreement to become EU primary law.
But, as the Cyprus Weekly understands, the Turkish Cypriot team have started to realise that such positions will not be accepted, not only by the Greek Cypriots but also by the EU.