Turkey’s Yildirim says Cyprus peace process not open-ended
By Esra Aygin
The negotiations process aimed at finding a comprehensive solution to the Cyprus problem cannot linger on in an open-ended fashion, declared Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim in Nicosia on Thursday.
“We will continue efforts to find a fair, permanent, comprehensive solution to the Cyprus problem,” said Yildirim in a joint press conference with Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci.
“However, it is no longer acceptable to hold up the Turkish side and the international community and to delay the negotiations further. It’s time for the Greek Cypriot side to show a clear will,” he added.
Yildirim was in the northern part of Cyprus for a Justice and Development Party AKP rally later in the day to garner support for the April 16 presidential referendum in Turkey.
He was accompanied by Energy and Natural Resources Minister Berat Albayrak, Forestry and Water Works Minister Veysel Eroğlu and Maritime and Communications Minister Ahmet Arslan. Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Tugrul Turkes had arrived in Cyprus a day earlier.
The blame game that has been on the rise on both sides of the island since the Greek Cypriot parliament adopted a bill to annually commemorate a 1950 Enosis petition in public schools a month ago was prominent during the press conference.
Yildirim described the Enosis vote as “unfortunate,” and said it came at a sensitive time when the “Greek Cypriot side should have put forward strong desire for a comprehensive solution.”
“Instead of correcting this mistake… Greek Cypriot side is continuing to adopt an aggressive stance that ignores the sensitivities of the Turkish Cypriots,” Yildirim said. “It is obvious that this attitude cannot take the negotiations process forward.”
A solution is only possible “if the mentality, which doesn’t see Turkish Cypriots as co-owners of the island, is completely changed,” stated Yildirim. “A comprehensive solution is possible only if the idea of an equal partnership and faith in a common future are embraced.”
Yildirim ended his statement by saying Turkey’s main principle is: “Whatever there is in Turkey, will also be in north Cyprus.”
Akinci, who took the floor after Yildirim, reiterated that they are still expecting the Greek Cypriot side to correct the “grave mistake” of the Enosis vote.
“Correcting mistakes and taking lessons from them are virtues,” Akinci said. “Showing that they can correct this mistake would help rebuild the eroding trust between the two peoples.”
Reacting against the meeting between Nicos Anastasiades and President Jean Claude Junker of the European Commission yesterday, Akinci said that the Greek Cypriot side is exploiting the issue of creating a Turkish-Greek balance in Cyprus, “which is described as four freedoms.”
“This is an issue that dates back to the 1960s,” underlined Akinci. “When the Republic of Cyprus was founded in 1960, Turkey and Greece were defined as the most favored nations in the constitution. It is difficult to understand how this would now be presented as something new. It is impossible to understand why Anastasiades would go and provoke the EU.”
Akinci added that there are formulas and solutions to overcome this issue.
Although the Turkish Cypriot side has a strong will to solve the Cyprus problem, they are not seeking a solution at all costs, said Akinci, who warned that the energy issue could lead to new tensions in the region unless there is a solution.
“If we are able to reach a mutually beneficial solution, then our state will turn into the Turkish Cypriot constituent state under a federal umbrella,” said Akinci.
“If a solution is not possible especially because of the Greek Cypriot side, then the ‘Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus’ will continue to develop. And then, everyone will have to be prepared for a two-state, a two-separate-state solution.”
The AKP rally that took place last night in Nicosia was attended by thousands of Turks bearing Turkish and AKP flags and chanting “Allah-u Akbar.” Sunat Atun, head of the Turkish Cypriot economy office, Kemal Durust, head of the Turkish Cypriot transportation office and Kutlu Evren, head of the Turkish Cypriot interior office also took the floor at the rally and called for a ‘yes’ vote in the Turkish referendum.
The rally, abundant in slogans of Turkish heroism and valour including in Cyprus, was broadcast live by all the television channels in the north, including the public channel BRTK.