Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (06.10.15) reports that Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci has said that during the negotiations for finding a solution to the Cyprus problem they are concentrated on the criteria in the property issue and expressed the belief that after this issue is settled the other chapters will reach a solution in a rational way.
In an exclusive interview with Kibris after completing his contacts in New York, Akinci drew attention to the importance [for the Turkish side] of designing the criteria on the property issue in such a manner that the Turkish Cypriots to have the “clear majority” of properties in the northern part of the island. He argued that the Turkish Cypriot should also have the majority of population in their own area and noted that in all the agreements it is written that the solution will be bi-zonal and bi-communal. Akinci said that in the EU officials and other officials whom they meet understand this and believe that a way could be found.
Asked whether they are considering of a certain percentage of Turkish Cypriot majority in population and properties, Akinci replied: “It is important to accept this in principle, because as of the beginning of the 1990’s it was turned into UN parameter. It has been approved in the UN Security Council Resolution No 750. What is understood of bi-zonality is for the two communities being the clear majority in their own area. This means that it will not be a little bit higher than 50% but much higher of course. I do not want to give a percentage in this sense. The important thing is to agree on this issue and be able to prepare the criteria on the property within the framework of this mentality. Therefore, I think that having a clear majority will be one of the founding stones for leading us to the success in the Cyprus negotiations. If we are able to overcome this issue within this framework on the property, and I believe that we will be able to do it, I believe that we will be able to reasonably find ways out in the other chapters which will come onto the agenda”.
Akinci noted that another point on which the Turkish Cypriot side is “sensitive” is the issue of turning the agreement into primary law of the EU. This requires that the agreement is endorsed by the parliaments of all 28 member states, he said, but if there are some people who believe that there could be other ways, the Turkish Cypriots are open to suggestions.
Referring to the issue the so-called permanent derogations from the EU law, Akinci alleged that these should be evaluated as “natural right” of the Turkish Cypriots instead of being considered as limitation of the rights of the Greek Cypriots or the other EU citizens.
Asked whether permanent derogations will be needed in case bi-zonality is guaranteed in the criteria for the property, he replied: “This does not have this meaning. We want some provisions of the agreement to become primary law of the EU in order for the agreement not to be worn though in courts. […] We know that the permanent derogations are something which is not very popular in the EU, but in spite of this some countries secured these derogations when carrying out their accession negotiations to the EU. A part of them is permanent and a part is temporary. Now it is talked of temporary derogations for us, but being primary law is very important. The Turkish Cypriot community must find the ways of being able to have the majority of property ownership and population in its own area. In this sense, understanding should be shown to our sensitivities. […]”.
Replying to a question, Akinci said that he sees positively the issue of the cross-voting and that this is an element strengthening the federal structure, but in order for the Turkish Cypriot side to accept this, the rotating presidency must definitely be materialized.He argued: “We can evaluate the cross-voting issue provided that we agree on the rotating presidency. However, discussing the cross-voting issue without concluding the rotating presidency is meaningless. […] I think that it would not be a bad situation if a person who will be the president of the entire united federal structure in rotation is voted by a certain percentage of the other community – and in the beginning this could influence by 10% – 15% and be limited in this number. The person, who will be elected there, regardless of which community he comes from, will act knowing that he will have to take into consideration the worries of the other community”.
Akinci noted that the process is quick and that the time for the involvement of the guarantor powers is approaching because their target is an early solution. He said that during his meeting with the UN Secretary-General they discussed the further contribution of the guarantor powers in the procedure. Commenting on the UNSG’s statement on the issue Akinci said that the procedure is a Cypriot-led process and that the security and guarantees is one of the six chapters. He added: “Therefore, even though we say that this will be discussed in the end, because we are experiencing a quick process and we aim at an early solution, the General – Secretary’s statement is tantamount to that we are coming to the point at which the guarantor powers will enter into action […]”
Akinci noted that the security concerns of the Turkish Cypriots and the perceptions of the Greek Cypriots of what constitutes a threat should seriously be taken into consideration and expressed the belief that a formula which will protect the sensitivities of both communities can be found on the issue of security and guarantees.
Akinci expressed the view that cross-visits of the negotiators of the communities to Ankara and Athens respectively should take place and that this will positively contribute to the promotion of the relations. He said that during their meeting in New York, the Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told him that he had submitted a proposal to his Greek counterpart Alexis Tsipras for visiting Cyprus together through Larnaka International Airport and meet with the two leaders in a tripartite and four-party meeting. He added: “This is actually a courageous step on Davutoglu’s behalf. This kind of gestures is good from the point of view of smoothing the relations between the sides and facilitating their coming together as well as increasing the contribution of Greece and Turkey to this issue”.