Cyprus President holds wide-ranging talks during visit
By Michalis Michael
The President of the Republic of Cyprus, Nikos Anastasiadis discussed a wide range of issues during his visit to Britain. He met with members of the royal family, members of London’s large Cypriot community and others, and discussed issues ranging from the Cyprus issue, British bases in Cyprus, the 4th of July document the Greek-Cypriot side is seeking and Britain’s position on guarantees to haloumi. In fact it is thought that the latter was the topic of Anastasiadis’s conversation with Prince Charles.
During the meeting, issues related to the Commonwealth and its future actions, issues related to sustainable development, environmental protection, as well as climate change were discussed. President Anastasiades also referred to the latest developments in the Cyprus issue, underlining his readiness to resume negotiations as soon as possible, noting that “our side is in line with the initiative taken by the UN Secretary-General via Ms. Lute.
In general terms, and according to information, Cypriot diplomacy departs the UK having gained a commitment that the country remains positive on the abolition of guarantees. This is something diplomats wanted reaffirmed, especially since talks on the Cyprus issue are at a standstill and everyone has focused on security and guarantees, with regard to the external aspect of the Cyprus issue.
Nikos Anastasiadis and Theresa May also discussed the issue, in connection with the fact that Brexit doesn’t affect talks to resolve the Cyprus issue; despite Turkey stating the contrary with a view to putting off any developments to June.
After the meeting, which took place at 10 Downing Street, the President told reporters that “we had a very fruitful discussion with Mrs. May, focused on the Cyprus issue, bilateral relations and, of course, Brexit which concerns all European, as well as our bilateral relations or future ties, should a no-deal Brexit occur. I hope that until the next European Council on 21 March, ways will be found to ensure a swift Brexit one way or another.
With regard to the Cyprus issue, she reiterated the standing positions of the British side, that she wanted a solution based on UN resolutions, the principles and values of both the Charter and, of course, the EU. Most importantly, however, she reiterated the position that Britain would not want to maintain its role as a guarantor.”
Christodoulides – Hunt discuss military bases
The Cyprus issue, Brexit and bilateral issues were discussed earlier on Tuesday in the meeting at the Foreign Office between Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulidis and his British counterpart Jeremy Hunt. On the Cyprus issue, Mr Christodoulides asked his counterpart to reaffirm the British position on the Chapter on Guarantors and Security, as publicly expressed by former British Foreign Minister Philip Hammond, according to which London does not seek the role of guarantor in the framework of a solution and is ready to accept what the two sides in Cyprus have agreed to.
At the same time, the Cypriot Foreign Minister called for a public statement from the British government which clarifies that Brexit does not affect and does not hinder the immediate resumption of talks on a solution to the Cyprus problem, as Turkey seems to claim. The two ministers discussed the issue of guarantees and security, with Mr. Christodoulides clarifying that there can be no invasive rights of third countries, nor the permanent presence of foreign troops in Cyprus within the framework of the solution of the Cyprus problem. The issue of the United Nations peacekeeping force, in which Britain plays a central role in drafting the relevant resolutions, was also discussed.
Ways were also discussed that could lead to a Brexit agreement between London and Brussels being ratified by the UK parliament, thus resulting in the avoidance of a no-deal Brexit.
More of the same from Turkey
While all these developments were unfolding, news from the Turkish-occupied north of Cyprus broke that the new Turkish National Assembly President, Mustafa Şentop, said during his visit that “we do not think it makes sense to start negotiations again if there is no common vision between the two sides”. He welcomed the Confidence Building Measures announced after the leaders’ meeting on 26 February and expressed hope that they could help build trust between the two communities. However, he continued, the most important thing is that the Greek Cypriot side accepts equality and the establishment of cooperation based on equality. It can not be possible to create a cooperative based on political equality without changing the attitude of Greek Cypriots who see Turkish Cypriots as a minority, the Turkish official said.
The negotiation process began in Beirut in 1968 and is still going on, Mustafa Akinci said on his part, adding that Turkish Cypriots are not demanding anything more than their rights. Referring to the gas issue, he said that Turkish Cypriots also have rights to the wealth around the island and added that instead of becoming a region of tension and confrontation, the Eastern Mediterranean must produce ideas that will be based on cooperation and mutual benefit. He added that instead of excluding Turkish Cypriots and Turkey, taking a wiser path that allows for cooperation is a precondition./IBNA