Akinci sure of world support (The Cyprus Weekly, 30 January 2016)
By Esra Aygin
Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci returned from Davos with heightened hopes for a solution, as the international community pledged to support reunification.
And Turkey signalled it is willing to discuss a security/guarantees formula that would appease both sides’ concerns.
In an unprecedented endeavour, the leaders – Akinci and Nicos Anastasiades – participated in the Davos summit, jointly appearing at a panel before global business and political leaders, declaring their commitment to solving the Cyprus problem and appealing for international support.
While in Davos, Akinci separately held bilateral meetings with US Vice President Joe Biden, British Prime Minister David Cameron and Turkish PM Ahmet Davutoglu, and discussed the financial aspect of a solution on the side-lines of the summit with a number of political and business leaders including the heads of financial institutions like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.
Akinci returned from Davos convinced that the international community, including the IMF, is committed to extend the much-needed financial support to Cyprus in the event of a solution, according to a source close to the Turkish Cypriot leader.
“We made it very clear that we cannot have the same disappointment we had at the time of the Annan Plan, regarding the financing of a solution,” the source said.
A donors’ conference held before the Annan Plan referenda just about raised $700 million. Despite the Turkish Cypriot side’s optimism, observers remain sceptical over the international community’s ability and willingness to foot the bill of a solution, which is estimated to be around $30 billion.
“The exact figure we will need upfront before the solution starts generating revenue will be clear after the details of the property regime and territorial adjustments have been finalised,” said the source. Akinci and Anastasiades have yet to deal with territory and security/guarantees.
Turkey, signalled in Davos and during AKEL leader Andros Kyprianou’s Istanbul visit – the first time in more than 40 years a Greek Cypriot politician was invited officially to Turkey – that it is willing to discuss other security/guarantee formulae that would be acceptable to both communities.
The Turkish Cypriot side expects Turkey’s opening to give encouragement to the Greek Cypriot side to be more flexible in negotiations over territory.
The Turkish Cypriot side wants to discuss the territory issue in an intensive manner outside of Cyprus, to avoid the issue from lingering on and feeding speculation.
“If we want to discuss the territory issue in a fast-paced and effective manner, we need to shut ourselves away somewhere abroad,” said the source. “This is a sensitive issue very much open to speculation.”
In what is presumably a starting position, the Turkish Cypriot side indicates that it cannot make the territory concessions it made in the Annan Plan.
Diplomatic sources, however, say that a final give-and-take between the sides will involve a rotating presidency and territory.