The comprehensive settlement negotiations, which were suspended for more than two years, resumed on 11 February 2014 with the agreement on the Joint Declaration by the two Leaders. A very positive atmosphere emerged in the aftermath of the announcement of the Declaration, which was furthered by the support of a wide spectrum of actors on both sides, ranging from political parties to civil society and religious leaders.
Throughout the drafting phase of the Declaration, the Turkish Cypriot side repeatedly demonstrated its commitment to a solution by making constructive, creative and flexible proposals that contributed to the resolution of disagreements and the finalisation of the text. With the Joint Declaration, the two leaders reaffirmed their aim for the establishment of a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation based on political equality. The two leaders also agreed that this federation will have single sovereignty, which is defined as the sovereignty enjoyed by all member States of the United Nations under the UN Charter and which will emanate equally from the Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots.
Moreover, it is also envisaged that the federation will be a member of the European Union and will have a single international legal personality and single citizenship. On the other hand, all citizens will be internal citizens of either the Turkish Cypriot constituent state or the Greek Cypriot constituent state, apart from their federal citizenship. The Joint Declaration clarified certain issues and states that the united Cyprus federation will be composed of two constituent states of equal status; neither side may claim authority or jurisdiction over the other; the bi-zonal, bi-communal nature of the federation and the principles upon which the EU is founded will be safeguarded and respected; the powers to be exercised by the federal government will be specified in the Constitution and the residual powers shall rest with the constituent states.
In summary, the Joint Declaration enabled reaching an agreement on outstanding fundamental issues, such as the form and structure of the new partnership state, as well as the political equality and status of both sides. Ultimately, a historic document has emerged.
The first tangible outcome of the positive atmosphere created by the Joint Declaration was the realization of the cross visits of the Negotiators of the two sides to Ankara and Athens on 27 February 2014. Through these cross visits, the Negotiators of the two sides instigated dialogue with the motherlands of their counterparts for the first time in the history of the Cyprus negotiations that have been ongoing for decades. As also stated in the Joint Declaration, our expectation remains the engagement of the two sides to a structured negotiation process in a results-oriented manner with a view to reaching to a just and viable solution as soon as possible.
Another important point which was agreed upon by the Joint Declaration is the issue of Confidence Building Measures. The Turkish Cypriot side has always attributed utmost importance to Confidence Building Measures and supported them as long as they created momentum and did not take precedence over the negotiation process. In this respect, it is pertinent to refrain from making proposals which may divert the negotiation process away from our ultimate goal of reaching a comprehensive settlement in an expedited way.
The support of the international community is crucial in order to resolve the Cyprus problem. In this vein, the Turkish Cypriot side welcomed the joint statement issued by José Manuel Barroso, the President of the European Commission and Herman Van Rompuy, the President of the European Council, in which they reiterated the established EU position that the EU would accommodate itself to a settlement to be found by the two sides. In light of the EU’s support of the negotiation process, we expect the European Commission to accelerate and increase the financial and technical support extended to the Turkish Cypriots in order to enable its harmonization with the acquis communautaire, which is suspended in North Cyprus. The Turkish Cypriot side is of the view that the harmonization of the Turkish Cypriots to the acquis communautaire at present will facilitate the smooth functioning of the new partnership to be established in the future, especially in terms of the speedy completion of the transitional period.
Six months after the resumption of negotiations upon the announcement of the Joint Statement, the two sides had only been able to complete the preparatory phase of the negotiations, namely the screening and discussion of substantive core issues and tabling of proposals. In order to expedite the process, what should have been done from the very beginning was to confirm the past convergences but the Greek Cypriot side announced that it would not accept the previously reached convergences which would pave the way to move the process forward. The Leaders announced on 17 September 2014, in the presence of Mr. Espen Barth Eide, the new UN Special Advisor on Cyprus, that they had agreed “…to move to the next phase of structured negotiations. They instructed their negotiators to enter into active negotiations with a view to bridging the gaps, through real negotiation, on unresolved core issues and to increase the pace of their meetings.” The leaders also reaffirmed their commitment to lead the negotiations in a “…result-oriented manner, through win-win approach, with an aim to reach a settlement as soon as possible…”
The Special Advisor said that he was an active facilitator to help the two sides reach a negotiated settlement and come up with “food for thought” papers to overcome the differences. It is our firm belief that the Special Representative could play an active and impartial role to safeguard the established UN parameters and facilitate the negotiation process.