Writing in Turkish daily Hurriyet newspaper (27.12.15, online), Cuneyt Ozdemir reports that he has been in Cyprus and interviewed President Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader, Mustafa Akinci on behalf of CNN-Turk television. Under the title “This spring, spring may come to Cyprus”, the journalist notes that Cyprus is not only a political issue for him, but it has a family aspect as well, because his father had participated in the 1974 Turkish invasion of the island and his sister has been married and lives on the island for 27 years.
“I saw that they have many times beaten their brains especially on the property issue, but the solution is not far away”, writes Ozdemir regarding his impressions from his meetings with the two leaders adding: “They say that from time to time tough debates are also taking place, but generally they discuss the topics one by one and look for a solution”.
The journalist goes on with conveying his impressions: “Akinci thinks that the natural gas found in south Cyprus and the water brought from Turkey to northern Cyprus will unite the fate of the sides. He sees the future with hope. In the presidential palace of the Greek Cypriot leader Anastasiades I was welcomed by a huge statue of Makarios. The interesting thing is that the signs in south Cyprus are written in Greek, English and Turkish. South Cyprus accepts the Turks as its citizens because it still sees itself as the owner of the island. And they are not considered to be wrong, if you think that all Turks of northern Cyprus possess a Greek Cypriot passport…”
Asked whether the number one worry of the Greek Cypriots is the existence of the Turkish occupation army, Akinci replied that it is the guarantees and the wish to return to their homes. “For example, if you ask a Turkish Cypriot, you will not come across with the demand that ‘we should return and live among the Greek Cypriots’”, he argued and responding to other questions added: “Even if the demand for returning back comes forward, surveys show that this issue can to a great extent be solved with compensations. This is good, because after so many years, new lives have been built both in the north and in the south. Therefore, the displacements should be limited […] The Greek Cypriots left properties of one and a half million donums in the north [Translator’s note; A land measure of around 1000 square meters]. The land we left in the south is around 450-500 thousand donums. Therefore, even if we exchanged all of it, around one million donums remain. […] Of course a part of this will be settled within the framework of the territorial adjustment. A big part of the rest could be solved with compensations. […] This solution is not prepared to remain only on paper. International effort is needed for the implementation. Look, the number which the experts give as regards the compensations is around 25-30 billion dollars. If new settlements will be built, the need will increase. It is talked about an extra cost. […]”
Asked whether the issue of the occupied fenced off city of Varosha is a taboo, Akinci replied negatively. He added: “Even if the negotiations remain unsolved, this is an issue that I will discuss in the long term. I talked about it a lot during the elections period, but when we met, I saw that the Greek Cypriot side is not very positive about Tymbou airport”.
Referring to his relations with Turkey, Akinci said that they have established a close dialogue with the competent authorities, which, allegedly, offer their support to the solution process, something which he saw during his recent meeting with President Erdogan. “I believe that the Cyprus issue stopped being a matter of exploitation in the internal politics in the new period for the Turkish government”, he argued.
Replying to questions on the administration of the water from Turkey, Akinci said that the valves were not turned off, but there is an uncertainty on the issue.
Asked whether a solution to the Cyprus problem may come by spring 2016, he replied that he exerts efforts in this direction, but the “others” must also exert efforts.
Meanwhile, asked about the “climate” in the negotiations and whether a solution will come out, President Anastasiades said that progress has been achieved on many issues, but there are also difficulties, which the leaders are working insistently to overcome.
Responding to a question regarding the role of the “motherlands” and whether the “shadow” of Turkey and Greece exists on the negotiating table, President Anastasiades recalled that after the reestablishment of democracy in Greece in 1974, Greece in no way interferes in Cyprus’ internal affairs and pointed out that we must understand that we should establish an independent state, full member of the EU having its own identity.
Asked about the occupied fenced off city of Varosha, the President underlined that no community can attempt to establish an order of things based on injustice by rejecting the other communities’ rights. He added: “We will leave no one without a home. We will not permit anyone to suffer without providing a place to live and the necessary conditions”.
Replying to another question President Anastasiades said that finding a solution to the Cyprus problem by spring is not impossible, if there is the necessary will and mutual understanding to overcome the difficulties at the negotiating table. “Turkey’s active support is needed in the exerted efforts”, he noted stressing that “the main chapters of the solution depend on decisions which will be taken by Turkey”.
The video from the reportaz at CNN Turk:
Report at Greek Cypriot Press: