The president of Northern Cyprus said yesterday (4 January) that a historic opportunity “should not be lost” on the Cyprus reunification talks in Geneva next week, according to the Turkish daily, Sabah.
Mustafa Akıncı spoke to reporters after meeting with the Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades at the UN Protected Area in the buffer zone between the Republic of Cyprus and Northern Cyprus. The meeting took place under the auspices of the UN Secretary General’s Special adviser on Cyprus, Espen Barth Eide.
Akıncı said that they will go to Geneva in a positive mood, and in a constructive atmosphere. However, he urged, that 2017 without a solution could be a distressing year.
The Turkish Cypriot leader made reference to the discoveries of offshore gas in the Cyprus economic zone, the development of which has caused tensions between Nicosia and Ankara.
“The hydrocarbon issue in the spring will get hotter; the drillings in the Mediterranean will come on the agenda. The election propaganda activities of the Greek Cypriots in February 2018 will come on the agenda and such risks would be able to delay the negotiations to mid-2018,” Akıncı stated.
The Republic of Cyprus will hold presidential elections in 2018.
“Over 50 years, a further 10-15 years would deepen the separation and end the solution efforts,” he added.
The meeting on Wednesday lasted nearly four hours in the neutral zone of the divided island.
The Geneva talks will take place between 9-12 January.
“All the issues may not end until 12 January, but we will achieve great success if the result is satisfactory for both sides on issues such as property, the rotating presidency, the Turkish Cypriots’ influence in decisions, territory and security,” Akıncı stated.
The Turkish Cypriot leader also said the reunification referendum can be held in mid-2017 if they reach an agreement in Geneva.
Akıncı and Anastasiades met in Mont Pelerin for a first round in November.
They returned to tackle territorial adjustments needed for an anticipated two-state federation. However, the two leaders declined to shake hands for photographers at the start of their latest talks.
Reunification discussions resumed in May 2015. Turkey has recently made many optimistic forecasts concerning the Cyprus reunification, while the Republic of Cyprus has been more careful in its statements.
If a deal could be reached on territorial changes, negotiators are expected to announce a date for a final summit between the Turkish and Greek Cypriot leaders and three other states involved in the process as guarantor countries: Turkey, Greece, and the UK.
That meeting would focus on security; particularly the presence of 30,000 Turkish troops that remain on the island after a 1974 military coup was followed by Turkey’s intervention as a guarantor power.
Once a final agreement is reached, it would be put to both communities in a referendum. A peace deal was approved by Turkish Cypriots in 2004 but rejected by Greek Cypriot voters.