The Cyprus problems

Interview of Stefanos Stefanou, member of the Political Bureau of the C.C. of AKEL, to “EFSYN” newspaper of Greece, 12 March 2019

• Does a common understanding exist among the most important political forces in Cyprus? No. In any case, there are political forces that do not adopt the agreed framework of the solution, that is to say bi-zonal, bi-communal federation with political equality as described in the relevant UN resolutions. That is the reason why throughout the course of the Cyprus problem there are discussions, sometimes intense, between the political forces as regards the solution of the Cyprus problem, despite the fact that there are also unanimous decisions approved by the National Council, such as the unanimous decision of September 2009, which is very clear in relation to the framework of the solution of the Cyprus problem and the main components of this solution.

• At this moment in time, there is again some mobility on the Cyprus problem, with the envoy of the UN Secretary General on Cyprus Jane Lute, visiting the involved capitals and exploring whether talks can resume. Under what preconditions could you see the resumption of these talks? The terms and preconditions set by the Secretary General the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, are very specific in relation to the resumption of negotiations. He wants the two sides to have the same understanding of the issues to be discussed, as to what has been discussed and what has been decided, and he has set out some basic preconditions. Firstly, that the two sides are ready to resume from where they had remained at Crans Montana, so we won’t start negotiations from scratch, but we will continue from where we had remained. Secondly, that for the negotiations to continue this would mean that what has been achieved in the negotiation from 2008 up to Crans Montana must be safeguarded, namely the well-known convergences recorded, and third, that the negotiations should be based on the framework of the UN Secretary General which has set out six key issues, which, if agreed, will subsequently enable the two sides to come to a strategic agreement on which they will build all the details of the solution on.

• Can you codify these six points? The first issue is the issue of guarantees, security and occupation troops. The Secretary General is clear that from the first day of the solution the anachronistic issue of guarantees that has existed since 1960 will be terminated and that any intervention rights given from the then agreement to the three guarantor powers (Greece, Turkey and the United Kingdom) will be abolished and at the same time he stipulates that the occupying troops will leave. The largest number of troops will withdraw in the first few days of the solution and within a short period of time all the occupation troops will leave. At Crans Montana, when this issue was under discussion, this had essentially been agreed. What was pending was the issue of the presence of the contingents, as provided for in the 1960 Treaty of Guarantee, namely a Greek contingent (ELDYK, with a force of 950 soldiers) and a Turkish contingent (TOURDYK with 650 soldiers).

The discussion centred on whether there would be a withdrawal clause after a specific timeframe or whether there would be a review clause regarding the presence of these contingents. The second issue is property. The third issue concerns territory and, primarily, the question of territorial adjustments, noting that the two sides have submitted maps at Crans Montana and these maps are very close (to converging).

The fourth issue concerns what the Republic of Cyprus will do with regard to Greek and Turkish nationals when they are in Cyprus, who are working, etc. The fifth issue is the question of executive power and especially the issue of a rotating presidency with a cross and weighted vote. It is a convergence that had been recorded between Christofias and Talat. Unfortunately Mr. Anastasiades opened this issue and can’t close it And the sixth issue is the issue of the effective participation of the two sides in the management of the state and federal bodies.

The UN Secretary General has identified all these issues, concluding that disagreements still remain on these, they are fundamental issues, and that if a convergence and an agreement is recorded on them this would mean that a strategic agreement could be achieved. • Besides the solution of the Cyprus problem and the consultations underway, there is also a real Turkish aggression in the Cypriot Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and the constant disputing of Cyprus’ right to explore and exploit its energy resources.

Turkey is provocative, trying to create fait accompli at sea with its illegal actions, attempting to establish “grey” areas. We must work with great composure and patience so that we do not allow Turkey to escalate matters. We must certainly fortify our sovereign right to proceed with our energy plans with the aim of continuing the explorations and exploit the hydrocarbons. We must also bear in mind that if the Cyprus problem is not solved, we will find Turkey constantly before us.

Therefore, the issue of hydrocarbons must be used as an incentive for the solution of the Cyprus problem, as the Secretary General of the UN points out, so as not to constitute a source of anomaly and tensions. Turkey has an incentive to move in the direction of a solution, because with the solution of the Cyprus problem it can become a contributor and participant in energy developments and policies that are developing in the region, including the Republic of Cyprus.

Our declared position is that with the solution of the Cyprus problem Turkey can and should participate and even a pipeline could be created through Turkey to transport the Cypriot natural gas, but this can only be done after the solution of the Cyprus problem. Otherwise, if you were to agree to this before the solution, it is like abolishing the incentive for Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot side to move in the direction of the solution.

AKEL’s position is that the natural resources, including hydrocarbons, belong to the Cypriot people as a whole, both Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, and that is why we insist that the Turkish Cypriot community’s share of the revenues must be kept in the Hydrocarbons Fund and it will be able to use them provided that the Cyprus problem is solved.

• Moving on to the European elections, could you tell us the message that AKEL seeking to convey in these elections – we saw that there is also a Turkish Cypriot on your ballot among the 6 candidates – and I also would like to ask how concerned are you about the rise of racist, extreme right-wing political formations in Europe. This doesn’t just worry us, it frightens us and we ring the alarm bell. The rise of the ultra-right and Neo-fascism in Europe is not accidental. They are being bred by the democratic and social deficiencies of the neo-liberal policies being imposed in Europe that cause inequality, poverty, social and economic insecurity.

The EU’s foreign policy with interventions in Libya, Syria and elsewhere has caused the flow of refugees. The ultra-right with its nationalism-chauvinism, racism and xenophobia, its fake “anti-systemic” image and rhetoric is building on these problems to invest in the fears, concerns and instincts of the peoples to win the elections. Unfortunately, the ruling forces in the EU, the neoliberal Right, bear enormous responsibilities.

They have done absolutely nothing in this direction, continuing to propose the neo-liberal model as a model of development. This is aggravating and strengthening the political and economic conditions that foster neo-fascism. It is very important that the forces of the Left are strengthened in all countries. The Left is the consistent force fighting against the ultra-right and fascism. This downward trend in the EU has to stop. The peoples of Europe have a thousand reasons to go to vote and vote correctly. As our principal pre-election election slogan says, “Make your vote count, give strength to the voice of the Left”.


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