Saturday 12 August 2017

Rotating presidency may be key to troop withdrawal

By Esra Aygin

June 30, 2017
Turkey has linked any further openings in the security and guarantees chapter to the political equality of Turkish Cypriots, including rotating presidency, in a future federal Cyprus.
In the Cyprus conference in Crans-Montana, Switzerland, which began on Wednesday, Turkey, for the first time in 57 years it has formally offered to change the 1960 security arrangements in Cyprus and to reduce the number of Turkish troops on the island ‘drastically’ on the first day of solution and then negotiate a timeframe for the withdrawal of the troops, on the condition that the new federation is functioning smoothly.
Turkey also gave an open message that if the political equality of Turkish Cypriots is ensured through a rotating presidency, it will be more flexible in the security and guarantee chapter.
There seemed to be a tie-up in the negotiations on Thursday as Turkey, after the offer it made on Wednesday, is now expecting some developments on the political equality of Turkish Cypriots.
The chapter of security and guarantees is being negotiated on one table in the conference, while on a second table all outstanding issues in the chapters of governance and power sharing, property and territory are being discussed.
Morphou on the table
The main outstanding issues in these chapters are rotating presidency, the right of return in areas subject to territorial adjustments and in those that are not, and the return of the town of Morphou.
Sources close to the talks said that the Greek Cypriot side is ready to accommodate the Turkish Cypriot demand for rotating presidency, but only after the latter accepts to return Morphou. The Turkish Cypriot side however, seemed determined to keep Morphou until the very end.
The Turkish Cypriot side hopes that UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, who is scheduled to arrive in Crans-Montana this morning, will be key to unblocking the process and opening the way for mutual concessions.
UN Secretary General’s Special Advisor on Cyprus Espen Barth Eide, foreseeing such a tie-up said during a press conference, that there are issues remaining “because the leaders chose to put them on the list of those issues they can only deal with at the very end.”
“I think this is the moment to actually unwrap these issues as well” he added.
Vice-President of European Commission Frans Timmermans made clear during the Cyprus conference in Crans-Montana yesterday that the commission is ready to accommodate the equitable treatment of Turkish and Greek nationals in a future federal Cyprus.
Sources close to the talks stated that Timmermans talked of unique accommodation measures if necessary, so that Turkey can become the “most favoured nation” of a federal Cyprus in the event of a solution.

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