Leaders hold three-hour meeting to restart negotiations
President Mustafa Akıncı and Greek Cypriot leader Nikos Anastasiades met yesterday after almost two months break. The leaders’ meeting was held at the building allocated by the UN for the negotiations at the buffer zone. President Mustafa Akıncı stated that the UN may contribute to this new process by holding shuttle diplomacy between the negotiators and the guarantors, and that a new conference date may be determined this way.
Following the leaders’ meeting, President Akıncı made statements to the press and replied to questions at the Presidency. Stating that the leaders discussed the new negotiation process, and agreed on the number of meetings, Akıncı said that the dates of the next four meetings had been planned for the next 6 weeks. He added that the leaders agreed to meet again on 20th April, as well as the 2nd, 11th and 17th of May.
Foreign Minister Tahsin Ertuğruloğlu: “The Enosis decision has not been eliminated”
Speaking at the General Council of Parliament, Foreign Minister Ertuğruloğlu referred to the resumption of negotiations.
Ertuğruloğlu stated that while the Greek Cypriot Parliament’s Enosis decision is understood by many to have been eliminated, he did not understand how people have interpreted this to be the case. He pointed out that the only change has been the transfer of decision-making authority from Parliament to the Greek Cypriot Minister of Education.
Ertuğruloğlu also noted that the Turkish Cypriot people were being misinformed by reports that the Enosis decision had been overturned.
Speculating on the likelihood that the negotiations will continue with a chance of success, even if the decision was overturned, Ertuğruloğlu pointed to Anastasiades’ statement that said “minorities cannot be equalized with the majority”. He also pointed out that there was no evidence that the Greek Cypriots accepted political equality with the Turkish Cypriots in the negotiations.
Ertuğruloğlu continued, “The negotiations have been continuing for 50 years, and the Greek Cypriots have been continuing their politics outside the negotiation room. They have not intended to conclude negotiations and go to a referendum”.
Ertuğruloğlu: “We are considering criteria for religious ceremony permits”
In his speech at the General Council of the Parliament, Foreign Minister Tahsin Ertuğruloğlu stated that the Government is considering criteria at the request of Greek Cypriots to hold religious ceremonies within the territory of the TRNC, and to grant permission accordingly. Within this framework, Ertuğruloğlu stated, however, that they did not give permission to hold religious ceremonies in Ay Ikserino Church in Gazimağusa.
Ertuğruloğlu also added that the Turkish Cypriot Government does not prevent freedom of religion and belief, but that it does try to prevent religion from being used in politics.
Ertuğruloğlu stressed that the Government will not allow Greek Cypriots to abuse religious freedom in order to give political messages within the territory of the TRNC. He added that three churches have been earmarked for holding religious services without restrictions, but that they have not approved requests to hold religious ceremonies in every church.
Stating that the purpose of the Greek Cypriots is to give the message that the TRNC is Greek Cypriot territory, Ertuğruloğlu said that some people feel uncomfortable with holding religious ceremonies in the Ay Ikserino Church.
Source: TRNC Public Information Office –
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