Turkish, Greek Cypriot leaders make opposing calls for talks September 28, 2010Posted by Yilan in Cyprus, Kibris, Yunanistan.
Tags: Cypriot, Greek, Turkish
Disagreements on how to resolve the prickly Cyprus dispute have once more erupted between the Greek and Turkish Cypriot leaders, this time on whether Turkey should be a party in ongoing UN-led negotiations.
Turkish Cypriot leader Derviş Eroğlu and Greek Cypriot leader Dimitris Christofias have both been in New York to attend the UN General Assembly. United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon held bilateral meetings with Christofias on Tuesday and with Eroğlu on Saturday.
Both meetings focused on the status of the ongoing negotiations which began in 2008 — as the latest of many mediation efforts after the then-leaders of the two communities committed themselves to working towards a bi-communal, bi-zonal federation with political equality, as defined by relevant Security Council resolutions.
Christofias, addressing the UN General Assembly on Friday, said he wanted to hold direct talks with Turkey on the future of peace talks on the ethnically split island, where a decades-old conflict threatens Ankara’s bid to join the European Union.
“From this podium, I repeat my call to the Turkish leadership to meet me, parallel to the negotiating process, so that I can share with them my vision for a solution to the Cyprus problem which would serve the interests of the Cypriots, of Turkey, of Greece, as well as of peace and security in the region,” Christofias told the assembly.
Eroğlu, however, speaking at a press conference following his meeting with Ban on Friday, firmly ruled out such a composition of negotiation when reminded of Christofias’ remarks. “The problem is between Turks and Greeks living in Cyprus. The Greek Cypriot will for holding negotiations with Turkey means escaping the negotiating table. Certainly, neither Turkey nor Greece would like to be the intervener in an agreement that is not embraced by both Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots. Moreover, Turkey is our motherland and, of course, we are having consultations [with Turkey]; but we are the parties who will resolve the Cyprus dispute,” Eroğlu said at the press conference held at the Türkevi, which hosts Turkey’s permanent representation to the UN and Turkey’s consulate general in New York.
Greece, Turkey and former colonial ruler Britain are guarantor powers of Cyprus’ independence agreement in 1960 — giving them the right to intervene militarily if the terms of that agreement are threatened. The four-decade-old Cyprus problem erupted after the eastern Mediterranean island was granted independence from Britain in 1960, soon followed by an outbreak of inter-communal clashes in 1963. The island was ethnically divided between a Greek south and a Turkish north when the Turkish military intervened in 1974 under the terms of the 1960 Treaty of Guarantee after diplomacy failed to end unrest on the island. In addition to the Turkish Cypriot Peace Forces Command (KTBK), made up of 4,500 Turkish Cypriots, there are around 35,000 Turkish troops stationed on the island.
“The fact that he [Christofias] wants to escape the negotiating table and meet with Turkey shows that he doesn’t accept us as a counterpart — which is an extremely wrong idea. His counterpart is us,” Eroğlu said.
He, nonetheless, added that once the negotiations reached a certain level of mutual consensus, then the Turkish Cypriot side wishes to have a quadrilateral meeting among Cypriot leaders, Greece and Turkey.