We do not have the luxury of another failure in the peace talks, Cyprus Foreign Minister stresses

The forthcoming negotiations for the resolution of the Cyprus problem, which may arise following contacts the UN Secretary General’s special envoy will have with all the parties involved, should lead to a solution, stressed Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides addressing today a AJC Transatlantic Institute conference in Brussels.

“We do not have the luxury of a new failure,” the Foreign Minister said, adding that Turkey should take the first step.

The Foreign Minister, responding to questions from participants, said that “the Republic of Cyprus encourages the EUs engagement in the talks to solve the Cyprus problem,” and explained that for the first time since 1976 we discussed the essence of the Cyprus problem, namely security and guarantees, in Crans Montana, making it clear that “the status quo is not a solution.”

The Minister noted that special envoy Jane Holl Lute will meet with President Nicos Anastgasiades, Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci, the United Kingdom, Turkey and Greece to examine the prospects of resuming the talks and made it clear that “there must be very thorough preparation,” a prerequisite for increasing the likelihood of finding a solution. He also said that in September he could say more about the issue.

The Minister said that “Cyprus cannot change its geography” and stressed that Cyprus hopes that Turkey could become a member of the same family, but a prerequisite for this is to change and to embrace European values.

“That is why Cyprus has given the green light for the start of accession negotiations,” the Minister said, noting that “we had every right not to do so”.

“Turkey has to comply with European standards and international law,” said Minister Christodoulides, adding that it must also give impetus to the solution of the Cyprus problem.

The Minister pointed out that one of the reasons convergences were reached in previous talks was the active presence of the EU in the negotiations on the internal dimension but also on the external one. “We encourage EU involvement in the negotiations” said the Minister and noted that the President of the Republic has already tabled proposals for moves that Turkey could make and which would lead Cyprus to rethink its position on accession chapters. He even cited as an example the proposal for the return of the Turkish occupied town of Famagusta to the United Nations, but stressed that Turkey should take this first step.

With regard to Turkeys reaction to oil exploration and drilling, he noted that “it is important that Cyprus has secured EU support through the conclusions of the European Council,” saying that the discovery of hydrocarbons has opened up new horizons, regarding the relations of Cyprus with the neighboring states and the EU.

At the same time it is estimated that the natural gas stocks are very important and that the conclusion of an EEZ agreement with three neighboring countries creates a new regional dynamic, transparency on international law and chance for dialogue in the region. “It also created the necessary legal framework for investment by large companies in the region, a vote of confidence in Cyprus, government, stability”, he said.

The Minister made it clear that hydrocarbons can evolve into “a new steel and coal” in the region by becoming a tool for regional co-operation and a catalyst for more institutional organization.

Cyprus has been divided since the 1974 Turkish invasion. The latest round of peace talks, in July last year, ended inconclusively.

Source: Cyprus News Agency