TRNC News Today 19th November 2015
Turkey and Greece see a window of opportunity for a solution
The Prime Ministers of Turkey and Greece said on Wednesday that they see a window of opportunity for a solution to the Cyprus problem.
Speaking during a joint press conference, after a three-hour meeting they had in Ankara, Ahmet Davutoglu and Alexis Tsipras stressed that Greece and Turkey will contribute positively to efforts for a solution.
Referring to the Cyprus problem, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said that there is a window of opportunity and that both Greece and Turkey will contribute positively to efforts to solve the problem.
“There is an opportunity right now. I do not want to be more optimistic than I should. I`m cautiously optimistic but we have to encourage towards a solution,” Tsipras said, adding that in order to be fair the solution must be based on UN decisions and be achieved within the European acquis framework, allowing the united federal Cyprus to safeguard the security of all its citizens, Greek Cypriots, Turkish Cypriots and all the others.
Furthermore, he noted, that in order to be viable, the solution must be acceptable by everyone and especially by the people of Cyprus. It must be a solution without guarantors, within a framework of security that we all have the obligation to build together, he added.
Leaders met yesterday
The leaders met in the building allocated for negotiations in the buffer zone yesterday.
President Mustafa Akıncı and the Greek Cypriot leader Nikos Anastasiades strongly condemned the events that targeted the Turkish Cypriots on 16 November 2015 and indicated that they would not allow such incidents to prevent the ongoing negotiations. The leaders’ joint statements published by the UN Secretary-General’s Good Offices Mission on Cyprus indicated that the shameful incidents that occurred on 16 November 2015 which targeted the Turkish Cypriots were condemned in the strongest terms. The leaders stand together against racism and hatred, whatever the source. They jointly affirmed that such acts of misdemeanour will be thoroughly investigated and will not go unpunished.
Greek Cypriot leader Nikos Anastasiades indicated that any damage incurred during these incidents will be remedied and President Akıncı expressed his satisfaction with this statement.
President Akıncı met with Eide
President Mustafa Akıncı met with the UN Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Cyprus, Espen Barth Eide.
The meeting was held at the Presidency and Turkish Cypriot Negotiator Özdil Nami, Presidential Spokesperson Barış Burcu, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Erhan Erçin and the UNSG’s Special Representative Lisa Buttenheim were also present at the meeting.
Akıncı met with British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond
President Mustafa Akıncı met with British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond who came to Cyprus for a working visit.
Presidential Spokesperson Barış Burcu and Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Erhan Erçin were also present at the meeting, which was held at the Presidency at 11.10 today.
Foreign Minister Çolak gave an interview to Reuters
In an interview to Reuters within the framework of her London contacts Foreign Minister Colak said that Cyprus is closer than ever to ending its four-decade-old partition and the two sides could agree on the text of a deal by May, followed by a referendum.
“We are cautiously optimistic. We think we are closer than we have ever been before”, Foreign Minister Emine Çolak, told Reuters.
“We don’t think the Cyprus problem has become easy – it hasn’t but we think we have a window of opportunity,” Çolak said. “It is possible and it is desirable to get to at least the major part of the negotiations and the agreed text by May 2016.”
On Wednesday, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu joined a chorus of optimism, telling reporters there was a “window of opportunity” on the Cyprus issue.
Asked if there could be a referendum on unification in early 2016, Çolak said: “I wouldn’t think early 2016 but maybe within 2016 – I don’t see any reason why not.”
“On both sides, the political leadership, the political will, is on the side of resolving it this time if we possibly can”, said Colak, a 57-year-old human rights lawyer educated at London’s School of Oriental and African Studies.
Unifying the island would spur investment, open up the Turkish side to more tourism, allow direct flights from most of Europe to Northern Cyprus and help stem a brain drain from the Turkish side.
On paper, the two sides agree on reuniting Cyprus as a two-zone federation under a federal umbrella but Colak cautioned there were hurdles that had festered for decades.
There are deep differences on how the new state would function and the degree of autonomy each side would have. The exact geography of the dividing line is also a difficult issue.
Other obstacles include the property claims of tens of thousands of people displaced in conflict, and Greek Cypriot demands that thousands of Turkish mainlanders who arrived on the island after division should leave.
“We have had some convergence on a lot of the headings so far but I would say we are about halfway, although at the moment there is a very sticky issue and that is property,” Çolak said. “We think some formulas will be found.”
Another issue is how and on what terms a unification deal would be guaranteed by Britain, Greece and Turkey. Çolak said the guarantor powers were saying this could wait until the outline of a deal had emerged.
She suggested that postponing Greek Cypriot elections planned for May 2016 would ease the negotiating process.
Çolak said some EU member states such as France were still refusing to speak to Turkish Cypriots.
In 2004, the Greek Cypriots rejected a United Nations settlement blueprint accepted by Turkish Cypriots. One of the objections of the Greek side was that the deal still gave Turkey a say in the island’s affairs, and that it did not safeguard the right of all internally displaced people to return to their homes.
Colak said Turkey would have to be one of the guarantors.
The cost of unification, thought to be around 16 billion pounds ($24 billion), would be borne by the international community.
So will it really happen? “There are a lot of signs of hope,” Çolak said.
“Cyprus is the training base of Israelis”
Greek Cypriot daily newspaper Simerini wrote in an article under the headline “Cyprus is the training base of Israelis” that the intended thing is to facilitate coordination between the two countries and become the Greek Cypriot side’s regular exercise base for Israel Air Forces and at the same time establish a permanent facility for Israeli Air Forces aircraft to make practice as much as they require.
The newspaper also wrote that the Israeli Air Forces held two military exercises in South Cyprus in 2015 and the target is to hold more military exercises in 2016 and to strengthen the cooperation between the two countries.
The delegations of CTP and AKEL came together
A conference was held on 18th November between Republican Turkish Party (CTP) and AKEL in order to exchange their views on the development of the Cyprus issue, in the village of Akaki in South Cyprus.
According to the information given by CTP, the conference which was entitled “Recent Developments on Cyprus” was attended by about 50 persons. The event which was organized by CTP and AKEL continued for 2.5 hours. The member of the CTP Central Executive Committee (MYK), Muhittin Tolga Özsağlam and the previous Greek Government Spokesman and the member of the AKEL Central Executive Committee (MYK) Stefanos Stefanu made a speech at the event.
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