Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades has said that the chapter of security and guarantees will be discussed as a priority at the Conference on Cyprus set to convene in June. Negotiations on all outstanding issues will follow, starting with territory, property, and power-sharing.
Addressing the PSEKA banquet in Washington during which he was given the “Barbed Wire” award, which as he noted symbolizes the unacceptable occupation of one third of Cyprus by Turkey, Anastasiades said that “it is of utmost importance to advance the crucial chapter on security and guarantees � the only negotiation chapter that has not really been substantially discussed for the last 43 years.”
“Actually it is the first time we have raised that this anachronistic system has come to an end. The first time,” he noted, stressing that “it is of utmost importance that the aim is to agree on a new system that addresses the concerns of both communities; a system which respects that the concerns of one community, and that does not constitute a threat to the other community.”
Anastasiades also stressed that it is in the interests of a pragmatic and rationally-thinking Turkey to substantially contribute to a solution of the Cyprus question, that would allow Ankara to be part of the unprecedented regional cooperation in the field of energy.
Furthermore he noted that “there is no place at the negotiation table for unwarranted demands and threats. Cyprus’ status as a European Union member state, with an independent foreign policy and a functional and viable system of governance cannot in any way be compromised.”
White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and American University President Sylvia Mathews Burwell were also honoured at the dinner.
In his speech, Anastasiades said that “the cause that unites us all is the genuine and heartfelt desire of Cypriots, to live and prosper in a reunified, viable and functional European country, without occupation forces and third-country guarantors.”
He noted that he has made every effort since his election in February 2013 towards achieving this goal, adding that “a reunited Cyprus, fully respecting the fundamental freedoms and human rights of all its citizens, with an independent foreign policy will not just benefit Cyprus but all our allies.”
“A reunified Cyprus will be nothing less than a game-changer. A deal of the century, with positive geopolitical ramifications in the troubled region of the Eastern Mediterranean. It will be of great benefit to the international community at-large, including the United States, the European Union, EU-Turkey relations, and Greco-Turkish relations,” he underlined.
Referring to his UN-led talks with Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci, under way since May 2015, which aim to reunify the island under a federal roof, Anastasiades said that while important differences remain, progress on a number of issues and across many chapters has been made and there have been many firsts.
“To start with, it is the first time in the history of the negotiations that we have achieved the active EU involvement in the process; after all, Cyprus is, and will remain, an EU member state post reunification, and it is of utmost importance that the solution is fully in line with EU law, values and principles,” he noted.
He went on to say that “for the first time we have expressly secured that the fundamental freedoms, and human rights of all Cypriots, without any exceptions, will be safeguarded in the whole territory of reunited Cyprus.”
Anastasiades noted that “despite the fact that important ground has been covered in the negotiations, there remain still significant difficulties and divergences. Following over twenty-four months of negotiations, the process had reached a point where it simply was not yielding the desired results,” he added.
Referring to his recent proposal on the way forward, Anastasiades noted that even though it was rejected by the Turkish side
it was followed by an invitation by the UN Secretary-General to New York, to meet with him and the leader of the Turkish Cypriot community, in order to overcome the difficult point in the negotiations.
He added that the statement issued following this meeting is significant, in that it states in the clearest terms that the chapter on security and guarantees is of vital importance, and that progress in this chapter is an essential element in reaching an overall agreement.
“These are not concessions but it is my effort to bring about freedom to my country. And I will continue to do so for as long as I believe that this is to the best interest of the people,” he stressed.
He assured that he is doing his best in order to see the country reunited and free from occupation troops. This is my duty, this is what the people ask for, he noted.
Moreover Anastasiades expressed his belief that Cyprus’s EU membership provides the best guarantee and the best security for a future reunited Cyprus, noting that in 2017 it is unthinkable that an EU member state should have guarantees by a third country.
Referring to a statement issued on Tuesday by the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Anastasiades said he strongly believes that instead of engaging in a blame game at this very crucial moment in the negotiations, it is high time for all stakeholders to engage constructively in the negotiations. It is high time for Turkey’s rhetoric to translate into concrete actions.
“A Cyprus settlement would serve the interests not just of Cyprus and its people, but also of Turkey’s, the region’s and the European Union’s. It is in Turkey’s interests to see Cyprus reunited. A solution to the Cyprus Problem would be a greatly needed diplomatic success story,” he noted.
Anastasiades also said that Cyprus is a reliable and stable strategic partner to the United States, adding that “we greatly appreciate the presence and involvement of U.S. companies in Cyprus’s Exclusive Economic Zone, working in partnership with our Government for the exploration of our hydrocarbon reserves. It is yet another signifier of Cyprus’s reliability, as a regional actor that can very practically assist in stabilizing the volatile region of the Middle East.”
He concluded by assuring that he is determined to rise to the challenge of putting an end to the unacceptable tragedy of Cyprus and its people, “to rise to the challenge of our historic responsibility and will continue doing my utmost to reunite Cyprus and its people in a viable, functional, independent European state, one that safeguards the fundamental freedoms and human rights of all Cypriots.”
On his part, Priebus said that “the battle for freedom is the same battle that you are fighting in Cyprus; and a free and unified Cyprus is something that we believe in. And the religious freedom.”
“The fact that the things that you believe in � and it’s Cyprus � are the same values that we fight every day but also they were fought many years ago; a battle for freedom; the battle that found our country, the battle of James Madison reaffirming the Bill of Rights and so many things that we go through every day,” he noted.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37% of its territory.
Source: Cyprus News Agency