All chapters in the Cyprus issue are thorny and everything depends on Turkey’s positions, FM tells CNA

All chapters of the Cyprus question are thorny and everything depends on Turkeys positions, Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides has told CNA in an interview, adding that Nicosia is ready for a solution which will serve the rights of Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriots but it does not consider it has an obligation to serve the interests of Turkish nationals.

The Minister pointed out that once security matters are cleared, this will help a great deal the solution effort, adding that the word compromise implies reciprocity

On Brexit, Kasoulides said that Nicosia will work, during negotiations with London, to secure the rights of its citizens as far as pension, the right of abode and work in the UK are concerned.

He explained that talks on Brexit involve two accords, one on the UK withdrawal and a second one on future ties between London and Brussels.

On hydrocarbon reserves in Cyprus Exclusive Economic Zone, he said Nicosia has no other option but to proceed with its energy planning, stressing that “we are not alone in this, we are bound by contracts with international companies.”

Cyprus question

—————-

Invited to assess the current state of affairs in the UN-led peace talks, Kasoulides said talks resume next week and the leaders of the islands two communities will decide the methodology.

Replying to questions, he said all chapters are thorny and all depend on the positions of Ankara, recalling that Turkey avoided to open up its cards at the Geneva talks earlier this year.

“We are ready for a solution on the basis of a bizonal bicommunal federation with political equality and effective participation of Turkish Cypriots in decision making in all sectors which justify this provided we achieve the abolition of Ankaras unilateral rights of intervention and the withdrawal of Turkish troops within a timeframe that will be agreed,” he told CNA.

Nicosia, he added, is ready for a solution which will serve the rights of its citizens, to the benefit the country.

“We do not consider that we have an obligation to serve the interests of Turkish nationals. A Cyprus solution means that Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots have to serve the interests of Cyprus and not the interests of third countries,” he stressed.

Asked if there is room for more compromises by the Greek Cypriot side, beyond what it has made so far, he replied: “Clearing out the issue of security will certainly help a lot the solution effort. The word compromise implies reciprocity.”

On the EU role in the peace effort, he said it would help to outline the positive fallout of a solution on Turkey.

On the US stance on Cyprus, he said American policy is still being formulated and Nicosia is trying to contribute towards a desirable outcome.

Replying to another question about confidence building measures between the two communities in Cyprus, the Minister referred to the unwillingness of the Turkish Cypriot side to accept a proposed solution to sort out problems of mobile telephony.

He also talked about supplying electricity to Turkish Cypriots in the past few months, following damage to installations in Turkish occupied Cyprus and about move to open up another crossing point to facilitate movement to and from the islands northern Turkish occupied areas.

Government energy planning

——————–

The Foreign Minister, questioned on government energy planning, said Cyprus has no alternative but to continue with its energy plans in that it is bound by contracts with international companies.

If Turkey opts to cause tension in the area because of Nicosias energy plans, it will be accountable to the international community, he pointed out.

“If Ankara claims that it is acting on behalf of the Turkish Cypriots, then the Turkish Cypriot community will also have a large part of the responsibility as far as the future of the peace talks are concerned and the solution prospects,” he told CNA.

Natural gas reserves belongs to all Cypriots, the Minister stressed, adding that it is a huge incentive for a solution and any delay in completing the energy programme will be to the detriment of both Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots.

Brexit and Cyprus

————————

Asked how Cyprus will move to secure the rights of its citizens, he explained that the rights of Cypriots and the rest of the Europeans will be negotiated as a whole during the agreement on leaving the EU.

“We shall work towards this goal, but I have to point out that all EU members have a significant number of their nationals in the UK and as such our goals are common. We shall also discuss the issue of British nationals in member states. We do not want to see policies which would discourage the arrival and residency of British citizens in Cyprus,” he said.

Replying to another question about possible repercussions on tourism, trade, shipping and investment, the Minister explained that the UK is the second largest export destination of local produce and the first destination of providing services.

“All these issues will be dealt with during the negotiations and we shall do our best to limit to the largest extent any negative fallout,” he added.

On the future of the two British Bases the UK has retained since Cyprus gained its independence, he said this is a matter of discussion between London and Nicosia, and an agreement between the two which will have to be endorsed by Brussels.

Asked how much leeway Cyprus has to secure fully the rights of its citizens within the Bases, he replied “it seems that we have sufficient leeway, we are not worried, following preliminary understanding with the UK. Besides that, the UK does not intend to make matters difficult as far as the status quo is concerned.”

Asked if Nicosia is considering raising the issue of the withdrawal of the Bases from the island, the Foreign Minister said this is not a policy of the Republic of Cyprus.

Source: Cyprus News Agency