Greek Cypriot side says negotiations for a settlement is the only way forward despite very significant difficulties

The continuation of the negotiations on the Cyprus problem is the only way forward for the Greek Cypriot side, which does not consider that there are really any other choices, Greek Cypriot negotiator Andreas Mavroyiannis said on Tuesday, acknowledging that there are very significant difficulties in moving forward.

He also underlined that a new effort for a negotiated settlement should not take place just for the sake of showing that the process has resumed, without being prepared at all levels and with no chances of being successful, because then the deadlock will be formally consolidated.

Speaking during a briefing on the Cyprus problem along with Government Spokesman Prodromos Prodromou, the negotiator said that there are very significant difficulties adding that the Turkish side is clearly following delaying tactics, while the Greek Cypriot side has to continue to convince about its will to move forward and that through its ideas, proposals and approach it creates the conditions and preconditions for negotiations that will have serious chances of being successful.

He added that we do not expect much by the other side for the time being but we at least expect that it will be accepted that under the current circumstances there is no other way than the continuation of the negotiations within the UN framework, on the basis of the UNSG’s good offices mission and fully using the Guterres framework and all the positive work that has been done all these years.

Mavroyiannis also said that the UNSG is not just interested in seeing whether there is will by all sides involved to continue the negotiations but also wants to make sure that there are chances of being successful as regards the issues in which they failed to reach a breakthrough in Crans Montana.

The negotiator of the Greek Cypriot side said that in this framework the question that is being raised by the UN is what makes the sides think that things will be successful this time.

And it is in this framework that the President of the Republic has made various proposals which are part of the innovative ideas in order to convince that this time we have greater chances of success, he added.

Mavroyiannis said that certain things should change in order to have a more effective and beneficial approach and stressed that since the collapse of the Conference on Cyprus in Crans Montana the Greek Cypriot side has been trying continuously to find a way for the continuation of the negotiations.

On his part, Prodromou noted that in the framework of the efforts being made with a view to resume the negotiations on the Cyprus problem, President Anastasiades has repeatedly put forward ideas with good will with a view to facilitate the process.

He underlined that the President of the Republic is ready for the resumption of the negotiations, any time, from where the point they were left adding that they want to safeguard the progress achieved during the recent negotiating process that went on for almost two years.

Prodromou also said that it is not productive to continuously put forward new demands or bring about changes as in the case of the territory issue (the Turkish Cypriot side withdrew the map it had submitted) and the very important convergence regarding the composition of the population, since the Turkish Cypriot side recently announced new numbers.

Prodromou also underlined that the discussion for a Cyprus settlement does not has to do only with discussing about the participation of the two sides, and particularly of the Turkish Cypriots, to decision-making processes and about political equality, and that the Cyprus problem remains an issue of invasion and occupation.

Therefore it will be solved on the basis of the historical compromise for a federation on the basis of the UN resolutions and of course these resolutions and decisions provide for political equality that should not be misinterpreted as a numerical equality or equation, he added.

He said that political equality is a key issue to this process as is the termination of the occupation of Cyprus, the replacement of the system of guarantees, the return and redistribution of territory, the issue of property, the population ratio, the relation of Cyprus with third states on the basis of the EU law, and a special arrangement about the rights of the Greek and Turkish citizens, an issue put forward by the Turkish side.

This is why, he added, we should refer to all six parameters of the Guterres’ framework and this is what the President of the Republic is pursuing as regards the formulation of the terms of reference, to be clear that all six parameters proposed by the SG are outlined, he said, adding that great efforts are being made since there are difficulties.

Prodromou said that the terms of reference are particularly important because the aim is not to have a repetition of what happened during the Conferences on Cyprus in Geneva and Crans Montana. He noted that the two sides must proceed to the negotiations ready and committed to discuss all the issues and this is why the Greek Cypriot sides insists on the Guterres’ framework and its six parameters.

Referring to the ideas which the President of the Republic has put forward to facilitate the process, Prodromou said that such an idea presented since the UNSG’s special envoy Jane Holl Lute assumed her duties is that it will be useful for the Turkish Cypriot side to submit its non-binding proposals on the six points of the Guterres’ framework as Anastasiades did in Crans Montana. Lute proposed that but this has not happened so far, he added.

Moreover, he said that another idea put forward by the President during his recent meeting with Lute is to have a meeting with the Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci in Lute’s presence, to clarify issues that come up, and to have a direct discussion. However this proposal does not seem to be accepted, he noted.

Prodromou recalled that President Anastasiades also submitted a proposal for the decentralization of powers in the framework of a federation because this would minimize the problem caused by the Turkish demand about the need for a positive vote in decision-making processes, which creates functional problems.

The spokesman also noted that during his meeting with Lute on Sunday the President reiterated an older proposal for a parliamentary democratic system, in which the Presidency will have limited powers. The exercise of political power will belong to the government and there can be a rotating system for the Prime Minister, he added.

Prodromou said that in this way the ethnical-related problems will be resolved because the power will be exercised on a political and not on an ethnical basis. This means that Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot parties will cooperate to win elections and form a government, he noted.

Meanwhile sources of the Greek Cypriot side have expressed the belief that the Turkish side has been highlighting the issue of political equality as a major issue with a view to destroy the Guterres framework.

They went on to say that without moving away from its stable position in favour of addressing all six parameters of the Guterres framework the Greek Cypriot side aims to find ways to minimize this “explosive effect” the other side has attributed to the political equality issue.

They underlined that the Guterres framework is significant and must be safeguarded, adding that the Cyprus problem does not only concern the effective participation fo the two sides in decision-making, but is an issue that the UNSGs himself tried to address through the six parameters of his framework.

As regards Anastasiades proposal for a parliamentary democracy, they said that according to this proposal there will be a Greek Cypriot President and a Turkish Cypriot Vice President, both with just symbolic competencies and no executive powers.

They noted the real power will belong to the government and the Prime Minister, that will be elected on the basis of the results of the parliamentary elections and that there will be a rotating system for the Prime Ministers post on a 4 to 2 basis.

As regards the issue of the UN peace-keeping force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) the sources said that this is a serious matter since the renewal of UNFICYPs mandate is used in an indirect way with a view to exert pressure on the Greek Cypriot side, due to the lack of negotiations right now.

With regard to the consultations among Greece and Turkey on the international aspect of the Cyprus problem (security and guarantees) they said that no impressive results are expected.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. Repeated rounds of UN-led peace talks have so far failed to yield results. The latest round of negotiations, in the summer of 2017 at the Swiss resort of Crans Montana ended inconclusively.

Source: Cyprus News Agency