September 3, 2016
By Esra Aygin
Turkey is willing to engage in backstage talks with Greece to discuss the thorny security and guarantees issue before it is formally taken up within the framework of Cyprus negotiations, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said.
Cavusoglu, who was on the island for the inauguration of a joint IT project between the northern part of Cyprus and Turkey, met with Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci and his team to discuss the progress in the Cyprus negotiations.
“There are difficult issues ahead,” said Cavusoglu in a joint press conference after the meeting.
“Some of these issues will have to be discussed in a five-party format.
“Nevertheless, we believe that it would be very helpful to already take up and exchange views on these decisions in an unofficial setting.”
Cavusoglu was referring to the security and guarantees issue, which needs an agreement between the three guarantor powers of Cyprus – Turkey, Greece and the United Kingdom – in order to be finalised.
The Turkish Foreign Minister added that they had already started an informal discussion on Cyprus with his Greek counterpart Nikos Kotzias.
In response to a question about guarantees, Cavusoglu reiterated that both the Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot sides need to feel safe and secure in the event of a solution.
“Of course, we have to understand and appease the concerns of the Turkish Cypriot people,” said Cavusoglu. “But if the two sides, the two people are to live in peace, then neither should have any concerns about security. We are not acting in a self-centered manner.”
Turkey is open to discussing every idea or proposal without drawing any red lines, said a Turkish source, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“Everything is on the table and Turkey is willing to take the solution process all the way to the end, as long as the Greek Cypriot side shows that it is also sincere.”
“Our aim is a lasting peace, lasting solution,” said Cavusoglu during the press conference. “We want the two sides to live in peace and quiet. We are ready to make every kind of contribution to this end.”
A Turkish Cypriot source, also speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed that Turkey is determined to see the solution process through, but emphasised that this is probably the last time it will play ball.
“Turkey is very willing to have this process finalised with an agreement,” the source said. “But this is probably the last chance it is giving us.”
In fact, Turkish officials, both publicly and in private conversations, have been quite outspoken about this process being a “last chance” for a federal solution in Cyprus.
“The United Nations is saying that this opportunity should not be missed, and so are we,” said Cavusoglu concluding his remarks. “We missed an important opportunity in 2004, not only in terms of a solution but also in terms of bringing out the full potential of this region… Let’s make the best of this last window of opportunity.”
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