Yesterday, Foreign Minister Özdil Nami spoke at a panel discussion organized by Turkish students of Yale University. Minister Nami, who is the first Turkish Cypriot Minister to speak at Yale University, made a presentation about the Cyprus issue and answered the questions of students and academicians.

During his speech, Nami emphasized that the Cyprus issue has been one of the oldest agenda items of the United Nations and expressed that since the start of negations in 1968, numerous rounds of talks have been held to find a mutually acceptable settlement to the Cyprus problem, but to no avail. Foreign Minister Nami underlined that the year 2004 marked a decisive moment in the perennial Cyprus negotiations when the two sides came closer than ever before to a settlement, but that this unique opportunity was lost when the Greek Cypriot side rejected the UN Comprehensive Settlement Plan known as the Annan Plan.

Furthermore, Minister Nami emphasized that on 11 February 2014, the two sides in Cyprus agreed on a Joint Declaration paving the way for the resumption of the comprehensive settlement talks after two years of stalemate.

Stating that the United Nations Secretary-General recently appointed a new Special Adviser on Cyprus who referred to the settlement of the Cyprus problem as a strategic priority for the United Nations, Minister Nami mentioned that during the first meeting of the leaders of the two sides with the new Special Adviser on 17 September 2014, agreement was reached to move on to the next phase in the negotiating process during which trade-offs are expected to take place.

Foreign Minister Nami recalled that the Turkish Cypriot side has always engaged positively and constructively in the talks and voted “yes” to the UN Comprehensive Settlement Plan of 2004, and emphasized that it is unacceptable for the Turkish Cypriots to continue living under all-encompassing isolation in all fields of life. Minister Nami added that following the Annan Plan, various members of the international community produced documents calling for the ending of the isolation of the Turkish Cypriot people, but that every step proposed to date to at least ease the isolation has been blocked by the Greek Cypriot side. Foreign Minister Nami stated the current situation is not sustainable and the emphasized  cannot and should not continue to live in a manner isolated from the rest of the world.

Minister Nami further stated that more progress could have been achieved in the negotiations to this date if Mr. Anastasiades, the new Greek Cypriot leader elected in February 2013, had committed himself to continue the negotiations from where they were left off with his predecessor. Nami added that the Turkish Cypriot Leader, on the other hand, when elected in April 2010, sent a letter to the UN Secretary-General stating that he is committed to the previously reached convergences.

Foreign Minister Nami lastly underlined that the expectation of the Turkish Cypriot side from international actors such as the United Nations and United States is for them to encourage the Greek Cypriot side to take the necessary steps with a view to finding a settlement to the Cyprus issue.