Turkey hopeful for ‘last chance’ on Cyprus

Photo: Turkey hopeful for ‘last chance’ on Cyprus  / Turkey

Turkey has welcomed the draft statement that would launch Cypriot reunification talks on Feb. 11 and expressed hope for a speedy conclusion to negotiations while also warning of the consequences of an unsuccessful outcome Hurriyet Daily News reported .

Turkish officials stressed that this round of talks constituted the last chance for a united Cyprus as both parties would have to go their own separate ways in the case of the rejection of the final agreement, as occurred in 2004.

"Saying 'no' to the agreement will certainly have consequences. In fact, it was the same case in 2004's rejection of the Annan Plan by the Greek Cypriot side within the framework of self-determination. But we considered that this could have been resolved in the course of EU process," Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told the A Haber in an interview on Feb. 9. "Talks cannot and will not last forever," Davutoglu added, underlining that both sides would go their own ways in the case of a rejection of the plan by the Greek side.

Months-long efforts to pen a joint statement that would kick off a new negotiation round could have been successful following last-ditch pressure on the Greek Cypriot side which was dragging its feet for the reunification talks. As a result of intense diplomacy, a drafted statement has been accepted by both sides whose leaders are expected to come together under U.N. Special Envoy for Cyprus Alexander Downer's supervision.

According to the drafted joint statement which constitutes a substantial framework for the talks, the "united" Cyprus will be based on the political equality of Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots. "The united Cyprus, as a member of the United Nations and of the European Union, shall have a single international legal personality and a single sovereignty which is defined as the sovereignty which is enjoyed by all member states of the United Nations, under the U.N. Charter and which emanates equally from Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots. There will be a single, united Cyprus citizenship, regulated by federal law.

All citizens of the United Cyprus shall also be citizens of either the Greek-Cypriot constituent state or the Turkish-Cypriot constituent state. This status shall be internal and shall complement and not substitute in any way the united Cyprus citizenship," read the third article of the agreement.

In such a way, the agreement accommodates Greek Cypriots' sensitivities with regard to the single sovereignty of the new federal state but at the same time takes into account the Turkish side's priority of having equal political status and its constituent state.

"We are satisfied with the agreement," Davutoglu said, adding the single sovereignty of the united Cyprus arose from two constituent states. "This is an optimum point that would satisfy all."

Mutual talks will take place soon

Agreement on the statement could be possible thanks to the huge support given by the international community, the United States, the United Kingdom and Greece as guarantor countries, as well as the European Union, he stressed. The minister informed that he had a phone conversation with his Greek counterpart Dimitris Venizelos over the weekend, in order to make the process a successful one.

"We are hopeful that reconciliation between Turkish and Greek Cypriots will have a positive effect on Turkey-Greece relations and we'll be able to turn the Eastern Mediterranean region into a zone of peace," he stressed. The foundation of the new state will also allow for all parts to benefit from the region's natural reserves that would also enhance prosperity and stability of the region. The minister said Turkey's project of transporting water to the island for the use of both sides would also add to efforts to bolster peace.

As part of the efforts for launching new talks, representatives of Turkish and Greek Cypriots will travel to each other's mainland country, Greece and Turkey, in a bid to break prejudices. "Right after talks start this week, these visits will soon take place. I believe these visits will break psychological barriers," he stated.

Statement: No blame games

Here are some articles of the drafted statement that will kick talks off Feb. 11:

- The powers of the federal government and like matters that are clearly incidental to its specified powers, will be assigned by the Constitution. The Federal Constitution will also provide for the residual powers to be exercised by the constituent states. The constituent states will exercise fully and irrevocably all their powers free from encroachment by the federal government. The federal laws will not encroach upon constituent state laws within the constituent states' area of competences and the constituent states' laws will not encroach upon the federal laws within the federal government's competences. Any dispute in respect thereof will be adjudicated finally by the Federal Supreme Court. Neither side may claim authority or jurisdiction over the other.

- The united Cyprus federation shall result from the settlement following the settlement's approval by separate simultaneous referenda. The Federal Constitution shall prescribe that the united Cyprus federation shall be composed of two constituent states of equal status. The bi-zonal, bi-communal nature of the federation and the principles upon which the EU is founded will be safeguarded and respected throughout the island. The Federal Constitution shall be the supreme law of the land and will be binding on all the federation's authorities and on the constituent states. Union in whole or in part with any other country or any form of partition or secession or any other unilateral change to the state of affairs will be prohibited.

- The negotiations are based on the principle that nothing is agreed until everything is agreed.

- The sides will seek to create a positive atmosphere to ensure the talks succeed. They commit to avoiding blame games or other negative public comments on the negotiations. They also commit to efforts to implement confidence building measures that will provide dynamic impetus to the prospect for a united Cyprus.

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