Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades said on Thursday evening that if a proposal he has put forward on the negotiating table in the context of UN led talks to reunite Cyprus, divided since the Turkish invasion of 1974, is accepted by the Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci, then a solution could be reached before the presidential elections expected to be held in February 2018.
President Anastasiades, was addressing at the time a Cyprus Scientific and Technical Chamber (ETEK) event in Nicosia. At the same time UN SG`s Special Adviser Espen Barth Eide was at a meeting at the Presidential Palace with Government Spokesman Nikos Christodoulides informing him of the reaction of Akinci to the proposal earlier in the evening. President Anastasiades was briefed of the content of the meeting between Christodoulides and Eide upon his return.
In a short statement to the press afterward Christodoulides said a meeting of the National Council, the President`s top advisory body in which parliamentary party leaders are members, would be convened on Monday at 1000 hours local time (0700 GMT), in order for Anastasiades to brief them of the content of his proposal, adding that following that specific statements will be made so that the public can be kept informed. He said there would be “no more public statements on the state of affairs until then”.
During his remarks at the ETEK event President Anastasiades said that in the context of the effort made in order to reach a peaceful, viable and functional solution of the Cyprus problem, “I had the opportunity yesterday during a meeting with my compatriot, leader of Turkish Cypriots, Mustafa Akinci to submit a structured and specific proposal which if it is accepted, could create the prospects, so that irrespective of when elections take place, but much sooner than the plan is by the Republic of Cyprus, we can have a solution.”
He added that he did not wish to go into further detail as an effort by Espen Barth Eide was underway but he continued that “if finally we decided, not so much as, but more so Turkey to touch upon sensitive matters which also concern the Greek Cypriots, such as the security issue, the matter of territorial adjustments, by finding a solution to these issues we could immediately reach the solution of the Cyprus problem.”
The talks, he pointed out, are not a matter of priorities, adding that “since 2015 we have done our utmost in all four chapters and we have seen progress but also “our weaknesses and differences were revealed.”
Since we repeatedly tried to achieve convergences, he noted, “there are limits to the compromise one could accept.”
“If you can see that the other side insists on positions which could create a malfunction in the new evolved state, it would be a crime to accept something which would lead to collapse the day after a solution is implemented just for the sake of a solution,” President Anastasiades added.
In statements to press after a meeting with Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias earlier he said he had briefed him of this proposals and that they are “in full agreement with the Greek government.”
Replying to a question he said that “we have reached a point where everyone should be tested whether we mean what we say or not.”
Therefore, if they mean what they say and they want a solution let us work for it substantively, he said. Let us go to Geneva, he noted, adding that he has put forward a specific proposal which he will make public. He explained he is being patient because Eide`s initiative is underway but that he would make statements about it afterward because “it is not possible for this incomprehensible stance to continue and in particular hostile statements.”
He also pointed out that he had kept the agreement they made during their meeting with Akinci yesterday on not making statements.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37% of its territory. Anastasiades and Akinci have been engaged in UN-led talks since May 2015 with a view to reunite the island under a federal roof.