On Tuesday 2nd February 2016, the President of the Republic of Cyprus, Nicos Anastasiades, gave an interview to SigmaTv journalist, Chrysanthos Tsouroulis, in which he also discussed the ongoing negotiations on the Cyprus Problem.
The Cypriot Puzzle has translated to English the part of the interview dealing with the Cyprus Problem:
Chrysanthos Tsouroullis (C.T): In the last 24 hours the issue of leaks from the National Council has re-emerged. You have already been accused by the National Council of keeping them in the dark with regard to the whole negotiation process. Is this how you intend to respond to these leaks as well?
Nicos Anastasiades (N.A): First of all, the claim that we are keeping things in the dark is not valid. On 5th December we offered a detailed informative session on where we stand. Yesterday, I mentioned that since 5th December some meetings took place that dealt with the issues that had already been discussed and attempted to minimise the distance between the two sides. I also dealt with the methodology to be followed, in vıew of what I noted in my letter to the UN Secretary General. Therefore, there is no case of keeping anyone in the dark, the members of the National Council are well aware of where we stand, on which issues we converge and where the differences lie. As proof, one can find the transcripts from the 5th December meeting of the National Council and from yesterday’s one. Therefore, the fact that some people are attempting to create a certain picture that, allegedly, the President avoids to inform, is not beneficial in general. In this way, tension arises, something that we try to avoid and hence I do not reply to all that I hear. This is the reason why I chose to inform both the Parliament as well as the public, in a press conference.
C.T: Has the date been set for this?
N.A: Of course, on 11th February I shall inform Parliament and 3 or 4 days later, depending on my other obligations, I shall hold a press conference. I will not allow for anyone to be kept in the dark. Ι have repeatedly stated that I will not allow for gaps of understanding or ambiguities, as I have reported to my letter to the Secretary General, with a view to having the public fully informed on what they decide.
C.T: Well, then, why were you annoyed with the leak of this document? I say this because it is already in the possession of the United Nations, Embassies, governments of major powers and possibly in Turkey’s possession. Why then should the Cypriot public not know what its President reported to the UN Secretary General?
N.A: Can you tell me how serious one side appears when it publishes the matters it negotiates, especially by those who are supposed to be the President’s advisors? I repeatedly said to the members of the National Council that I would like them to be the best of advisors and to be taking decisions together. However, you cannot inform. There is a serious attempt going on. It is not a matter of your opponent or interlocutor knowing your demands and making them public or not. The issue is that the differences are noted down, in blue and in red. Blue is our side and red the other. Many of them have already been overcome through common understanding. If you hand over the papers, then what they [the members of the National Council] will focus on, and as a matter of fact this is what happens, are the Turkish demands and they will portray them as if those were the end result. Well, I will not become an accomplice in an attempt of those who might object to the choice of solution, to destroy the whole process.
What I care about is that I negotiate in all seriousness and that I claim what I think will be the answer to the worries of the Cypriot people and not to satisfy any pre-election, or other, intentions of the parties.
C.T: So, do you think that there is a part of the Cypriot public or the political sphere that does not want a solution?
N.A: The Cypriot public is unfortunately being misinformed and often misled. An impression is created that everything is done in such a way so as to meet Turkish demands, in an attempt to negatively preempt the people. Yesterday, or the day before yesterday, for example at the DISY Congress, I gave 5 arguments why the solution will indeed be the continuation of the Republic of Cyprus and there was one person who picked one of those arguments to give the impression that we are not discussing the continuation of the RoC and that it is ridiculous to say that. One can have his/her opinions, I am willing to listen with a lot of patience; I do not respond and do not think that the government has ever created tension among the political powers.
C.T: What you hear outside the National Council, do you hear the same things in the meetings, as well?
N.A: Some things I do hear, some i do not. If certain things were said in the National Council, I would have responded. I do not respond to what is said in public so as to not create further tension. I, therefore, repeat that the people will indeed be informed when there is something on which they are to be informed. At this stage, I think that both the Parliament needs to be informed on the progress, the obstacles and the whole negotiation process, as well as the public.
C.T: From the letter to the UN Secretary General I keep one of your statements: that we have to avoid giving the impression that the solution is immediately feasible, so as not to create the wrong impressions or expectations that might be disproven. I would like to ask: who is it that creates this impression and do you feel like an accomplice (if I may use this term) in the creation of this impression, since in the past you hinted at the possible postponement of parliamentary elections?
N.A: You see, what is being discussed in the National Council is then twisted when made public. What happened was that in explaining the composition, as it was agreed, of the Federal State’s Parliament and the composition of the Upper Senate, I said that in case we concluded the process, one of the possibilities would be to have a transitional period -a small period of time- in which the currently-elected representatives would hold their positions until the Federal State elections. This would be done with a view to having a continuation of the State from the first day on, but was only raised as a possibility. In any case, I am not the one who decides on this, but the Parliament itself. This is not my duty nor did I ever state this as a fact. I merely stated it as a possibility. I never gave that picture and never contributed to the creation of wrong impressions. I said that there is progress but there is also a distance to be covered. I have said this so many times, so anyone who tries to create the contrary image is not speaking the truth. By getting hopes up and then disappointing is the worst way to achieve your goal.
C.T: In the document to the UN you refer to the issue of “constructive ambiguities.” You also noted this a while ago and even though I heard you and saw this mention in the document as well, you are being accused of not including in the document the issue of the continuation of the Republic of Cyprus, while that should be your main priority.
N.A: I am interested in all matters. As I know what is being discussed on the issue of the continuation, I do not have to stress what is considered apparent. First of all, the 1960 Treaty of the establishment of the Republic of Cyprus will stay in effect. I have said it before and I repeat it again, the Republic of Cyprus was and will carry on being a member of the United Nations and a new membership application will not be needed. I have said it before and I repeat it again, the Republic of Cyprus will carry on being a member of the European Union without having to re-apply. The International Treaties that were signed by the Republic of Cyprus and which are binding, will remain valid and will not be renegotiated. Ι have also mentioned the example of the accredited Ambassadors of the Republic of Cyprus who will not have be re-accredited. One of the members of the National Council chose that example to portray as a “funny argument”. I am not dealing with “jokes,” Ι am dealing with serious matters and it goes without saying that our position is that the solution will be the continuation of the Republic of Cyprus. This is why we are trying for everything to be in place from the first day on, if, with God’s will, we conclude to a solution. In that case, we do not want an ‘interruption’, but the continuation of the State under its new form, based on what has been agreed at times, whether these were the High-Level Agreements of Makarios in 1977, of Kyprianou in 1979, the Joint-Declaration of Papadopoulos and Talat on 8th July 2006 or the Joint Declaration on 11th February 2014.
C.T: Since you have established the reputable cross-negotiation, can you tell us which chapters are the ones you discuss as such (diagonally) and on which chapters the Greek Cypriot side has achieved gains as well? It is claimed, that the Turkish Cypriot side is the only one with gains up to now.
N.A: Everyone is allowed to say whatever they want. During the process of informing Parliament as well as the Cypriot public you will realise that things are not like this. I do not think that it would be wise or appropriate at the moment, without first informing Parliament and the Cypriot public, to list what we have gained, what is being discussed, where there is convergence and significant improvement from the past or even what used to be the demands and what these are today.
C.T: Yes, but following the document that was made public yesterday, it appears clear that there is no progress on the substantive issues. The other side remains persistent in its stance.
N.A: I repeat that full briefing will take place and everything will be proven. On the other hand, issues remain and this is why I told the U.N. Secretary General that all matters should finally be exhausted before it can be considered that we have, or that we are approaching, or that we are within the range of a solution.
C.T: None of these are happening now?
N.A: There, still, is distance to be covered. This is why I have mentioned that the target and goal of the visit in Davos and the meeting with the U.N. Secretary General (in fact I would have wanted Mr. Akkinci to be with me in that meeting), was simply the desire to deconstruct the wrong impressions that we allegedly are on the verge of a solution and that one fine day, as it was stated by the opposition or others, a plan will appear, because everything is pre-determined behind closed doors and the people will be taken by surprise. I think that from the unacceptable leak of the document, one can see that I do what I ought to do for the general benefit of the sought out solution.
C.T: Aside from Ankara’s verbally-expressed intention to discuss the issue of guarantees, there has been no change in substance. Or rather, what has changed is that Ankara discusses a varied model, but still with guarantees.
N.A: Look, the issue of safety has been left to discuss at the end. As food for thought, various opinions are being raised. The Greek government, with academics and legal experts, is looking into alternative means, and so is our side. However, what we have to keep in mind is what exists as a common understanding: The 1960 Treaties were signed under different circumstances and status quo and in 2016, a country that is a full member of the European Union, is placed under different circumstances and with a system of governance that undoubtedly guarantees, from the moment that the federation becomes bi-communal, the rights of both communities. Hence many things have changed and are differentiated and this is accepted by all interlocutors.
C.T: So are you claiming that in case you conclude and there is a plan, this will not include the unilateral right of Turkey?
N.A: In no way should the plan include military guarantees and unilateral or any form of interventional rights of any country whatsoever.
C.T: Does Ankara accept this?
Ν.Α: We have said before that this will be discussed at the end. Even the fact that the issue is put forward for deliberation, is an encouraging one, for the efforts being made. Greece will denounce its rights as a guarantor power. Regarding the United Kingdom, after the deliberation that took place when William Hague was Foreign Secretary and following my repeated meetings with David Cameron, what has become Britain’s stance is that if both communities wish it, then it will carry on having a guarantor role, but if they do not wish so, and already one of the two, the Greek Cypriot side does not wish so, then it will not be a guarantor power. Taking this into consideration, who is going to accept that Turkey will be able to intervene, and considering that the current status quo is the result of Turkey allegedly exercising their right of intervention in Cyprus? That would mean that one is willing to accept the claim that Turkey can guarantee the safety, even of the Turkish Cypriot constituent state.
C.T: Aside from what third parties might be reporting to you, do you have any concrete example of a change in the Turkish stance or mode of thinking on the issues of the Cypriot Problem?
N.A: There is a general common understanding and information from both sides repeating Turkey’s decisiveness while the events that surround today’s conditions, global and local, make Turkey appear as wanting a solution.
C.T: In the way that Turkey wants though.
N.A: This will be clarified on the negotiating table. And I need to make something clear: If one side expresses certain positions, this does not mean that this will be the solution. Just like we put forward certain positions that might be differentiated in the end, because they do not reflect the worries of Turkish Cypriots. We need to comprehend that the solution will be a product of compromise and at the same time of common understanding so as to create the basic conditions for prospects and future.
C.T: At the same time one cannot remove from the table the issue of invasion and occupation in an attempt to balance the two communities.
N.A: This is what the solution will aspire to: the vanishing of invasion, the vanishing of its consequences, to the greatest extent possible, the withdrawal of the Turkish troops, the end of occupation and the creation of a state that will guarantee peace, stability and progress. This is our aim. Unfortunately, the solution in itself consists a compromise due to an overwhelming need. From the moment that it became accepted though, we need to work together to see how we can create the best possible conditions for a functional and sustainable state, a member of the European Union that will be fully in accordance with its obligations, having full protection of human rights and full protection of communal and individual freedoms, an issue which we have already concluded.
C.T: On the other hand, I hear you emphasising strongly the “first-day issues”, the issues of the first 24 hours. One of the main such issues is the financing of the solution. Aside from certain studies conducted on the issue, there is nothing specific.
N.A: Well the studies precede and then follows the preparation and the form of “the Fund’s” composition. Without studies how can you apply for donatıons, apply for fınancing, find the way to go on with the financing, find the way to redeem the financing, not in terms of taxes but possibly… In any case this is not the moment to mention the various scenarios or the various speculations being raised. But in any case, what I want to ascertain, because I often hear the unacceptable claim, that Greek Cypriots will be called to pay for their own properties.
C.T: Do you reject this outright? Because as you know, this followed from the Annan Plan.
N.A: I have said this before and I am repeating it today. I am not interested in pleasing those who accepted the Annan Plan, but in pleasing the worries of those who rejected it. Therefore I do not ignore or overlook, as a whole, the Cypriot community or the Turkish Cypriot one. If we want a solution, we need to keep our feet on the ground, to negotiate in all seriousness, to create a state in which one will not impose themselves upon the other, where the dangers of demographic alterations will not exist, where the population analogy is safeguarded, based on the constitutional provisions so that the feeling of safety will be preserved for everyone.
C.T: And you are not willing to accept guaranteed majorities of land ownership or of population, right?
N.A: We want to avoid that. What I am talking about is the safeguarding of the bi-communal aspect of the solution as per the notion of a bizonal, bi-communal solution. Each zone represents the administrative boundaries in which each community can exercise its rights and so will the other community within its own administrative boundaries. The communal structure can be protected based on the absolute implementation of the four basic freedoms, the right of settlement, the right to work, the right of free movement etc.
C.T: So, will it be a solution that will respect the EU acquis communautaire?
N.A: This should be considered a fact by now, it is not merely a demand. It is an issue of common understanding and one of the most important achievements.
C.T: Just to return to the financing for a bit and then I shall close the chapter on the Cyprus Problem. Why would you say that the American, or French or German citizen and taxpayer will “subsidise” the Turkish invasion, by contributing to a Fund that will be used to excuse a situation which came about from the Turkish invasion.
N.A: First of all, I would like to note that we are not illusionary in thinking that the donors will be able to fully cover the expected solution cost. Secondly, it is not a matter of ‘covering’ Turkey’s obligations. The matter is that the solution to one of the greatest problems for a E.U. member country, in the geographical and geopolitical position situated, will bring multiple benefits on a number of fronts, regarding E.U. relationships; for instance, between Turkey and E.U., or Turkey and Greece, or even the relationship between E.U. and NATO, or the issue of energy security in the E.U. There are many things to be taken into consideration when the various states take decisions on the issue.
C.T: Should Turkey form part of this equation?
N.A: It will do so.
C.T: Are you saying that Turkey will recognise, in any way, the consequences of everything that has happened?
N.A: Well, I do not want to get involved in what Turkey will or will not not recognise, but I am telling you that Turkey will be part in one way, or another, of what forms the consequence of the solution basis on which we have agreed to conduct negotiations.
This will not be the criterion. What I already said before and I repeat today is that if I feel that the solution plan does not correspond to the apprehensions of the Greek Cypriot people, I shall not say of 76% of Greek-Cypriots, but of all Greek-Cypriots, I will accept my responsibilities and I will not enforce a plan on the people. I am not ignoring the concerns of the Turkish Cypriot people of course, but from the moment that [the plan]will not satisfy the worries of one side, and will only satisfy the other, it will not be put forward to a referendum.
You can find the full interview here: http://www.sigmatv.com/webtv/view/7170