Spokesman: Cyprus settlement process belongs to the Cypriots
Nicosia, Jun 29 – The negotiating process in Cyprus belongs to the Cypriots and they decide how this will proceed, Government Spokesman Stefanos Stefanou has stressed, noting that there is still work to be done towards a political settlement.
Invited to comment on statements by British High Commissioner to Cyprus, Mr. Peter Millett, Mr. Stefanou said that “we will decide how we will move forward”, adding that “now we are at a phase in which the leaders of the two communities discuss with their advisers the different negotiating chapters separately and we still have work ahead of us.”
There are no strict deadlines in the process, he stressed, noting that the international community has endorsed the Greek Cypriot side’s position that it is unproductive to have strict deadlines and a process of arbitration.
Mr. Stefanou stressed that the Greek Cypriot side wants a settlement the soonest possible and that it knows that time is not working in favor of the prospect for a settlement.
“But on the other hand we will not accept any settlement because time is passing by. The settlement has certain specifications, we have certain demands of this settlement, and it must heal the wounds created by the Turkish invasion and the occupation.”
So, he added, the two communities must cooperate at the negotiating table to achieve this goal. Mr. Stefanou said that it is important that the positions submitted at the negotiating table are constructive and serve the agreed basis for a settlement which is a bizonal, bicommunal federation.
Asked if during discussions on territory there is talk about the return to the Republic of areas now within the boundaries of the British Sovereign Bases on the island, Mr. Stefanou said that the two communities in Cyprus are negotiating to reach a comprehensive settlement, adding that each issue is discussed when the right time comes.
Britain, a former colonial power, has retained two military bases on the island since Cyprus gained its independence in 1960.
Asked if a settlement is possible by the end of the year, Mr. Stefanou said that we can reach a settlement soon if there is cooperation from everyone.
He noted that the Greek Cypriot side is working in view of the evaluation of Turkey’s EU accession course, so that the EU and the international community will exert their influence on Turkey to cooperate for a settlement, in favor of the people of Cyprus.
Asked to comment a statement by Swedish FM Carl Bildt that his country, which assumes the EU Presidency on July 1st, has Turkey’s EU accession course as one of its priorities, Mr. Stefanou said that Cyprus and Greece support Turkey’s accession negotiation, adding that Turkey must help itself if it wants to fulfill its European aspirations.
However, he stressed, this support is not a “blank check with no conditions”, noting that the EU has a role to play in view of Turkey’s assessment of its accession negotiations.
Invited to comment on statements by Turkish Cypriot leader Mr. Mehmet Ali Talat, the Spokesman said that the negotiations must take place at the negotiating table and that it is unproductive and not constructive to negotiate in public.
He noted that for the second time in the recent past, Mr. Talat has expressed doubt as to whether President Christofias has the courage to sign a settlement, adding that the Cypriot people, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots alike, know who has the courage to sign a settlement which will favor the Cyprus people.
The Spokesman has described as counter-productive statements by the so-called prime minister of the illegal Turkish Cypriot regime in Turkish occupied Cyprus that the return of Morphou, in the northwest part of the island, is a red line for the Turkish side.