Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Kudret Özersay stated that “unless the current circumstances change and until the Greek Cypriot side is ready to share power and prosperity with the Turkish Cypriot side, negotiating for a federal settlement on the basis of sharing would mean imprisonment of the Turkish Cypriot people to the negotiation table. We must commence with negotiating the hydrocarbon resources in order not be caught up in a vicious circle of negotiations.” It is essential that the Greek Cypriot leadership is subjected to a litmus test through a process of dialogue on the basis of cooperation on the hydrocarbon resources. All in all, it is not possible to continue from where left off; a new framework must be defined and political dialogue should be carried out in accordance with this framework.
Kudret Özersay stated that following the collapse of the negotiation process in 2017, turning a blind eye to both the developments in and around the island and projecting informal meetings as if there is an ongoing process would only serve maintenance of the unacceptable status quo and disguising of the escalatory policies of the Greek Cypriot side. Özersay added that “if the intention is to create a sound environment for the future of the island of Cyprus, then it must be ensured that the Greek Cypriot side shows the will for cooperation and dialogue, particularly as regards sharing of the hydrocarbon resources”.
Statement of the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Kudret Özersay regarding the response by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to a question on the Cyprus issue during a press Conference held, on 16 September 2020, at the UN headquarters for the opening of the 75th Session of the UN General Assembly.
In his response, Guterres stated that there is a consensus to await the completion of the Presidential elections in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus in order to begin diplomatic initiatives to re-start negotiations, adding that his intention is to have a 5-party meeting with the two sides and the Guarantor states and recommence a dialogue with the two leaders, stating that in the meantime it is important to develop Confidence Building Measures between the two sides on the island.
Turkish Cypriot side, as also called for by the UN Secretary General, has always been ready for dialogue as well as the implementation of the Confidence Building Measures. However, when making such calls, the UN Secretary-General should not overlook the intransigent stance displayed by the Greek Cypriot side over the years both as regards the negotiations and the Confidence Building Measures, thus should openly disclose this reality. Otherwise, it will not be possible yet again to reach a successful conclusion as regards dialogue on the negotiations or the CBMs.
As will be recalled, following the collapse of the last negotiation process in Crans Montana due to the maximalist demands of the Greek Cypriot side, the UN Secretary-General took a new initiative to start an exercise on terms of reference in order to bring the two sides closer. This exercise produced no concrete development due to the intransigent stance of the Greek Cypriot side which does not uphold a common understanding as regards the future of this island. On the contrary, besides its maximalist and uncooperative stance at the negotiation table, the Greek Cypriot side has intensified its efforts of rearmament as well as the illegal and unilateral exploration of hydrocarbon resources around the island in total violation of the rights of the Turkish Cypriots.
When the Turkish Cypriot side registered, with the UN, its constructive proposals of 2011, 2012 and most recently in 2019 addressed to the Greek Cypriot administration as regards cooperation on the issue of hydrocarbon exploration activities, we expected that the United Nations would put forth efforts towards development of cooperation between the two sides on the island on the issue of hydrocarbons. However, the United Nations, unfortunately, refrained from making concrete calls and taking steps for the realisation of such a cooperation. As a result, during this period, the Greek Cypriot side continued intensifying its hydrocarbon exploration activities, as well as its hostile and provocative steps, including invitation of foreign forces and deployment of military fighter jets in the island.
Failure on the part of the United Nations and international community to react to these provocative actions of the Greek Cypriot side, which is acting as if it is the owner of the whole island, has caused threat to peace and stability on the island and in the region and encouraged the hostile and intransigent stance of the Greek Cypriot side. Moreover, the deployment by the Greek Cypriot side of 187 heavy military bunkers close to the crossing points between the two sides most recently has been a development which affected adversely the peaceful and secure conduct of daily lives of the two peoples on the island.
It is amply clear that the reason behind the non-settlement of the Cyprus issue for the past 52 years is the Greek Cypriot side’s unwillingness to share power and prosperity with the Turkish Cypriot side. Hence, the then Secretary-General of the United Nations, H.E. Mr. Kofi Annan, reported at the time that non-settlement of the Cyprus issue is due to “the lack of willingness of the Greek Cypriot side to share the power and prosperity” with the Turkish Cypriots.
At this point, inaction by the international community in the face of the hostile and provocative actions of the Greek Cypriot side, which ignores the rights and interests of the Turkish Cypriot people, only contributes to the continuation of the unacceptable status quo on the island and the increase of tension in and around the island.
If the United Nations is sincere about working towards a settlement of the Cyprus problem, then it should condemn the provocative armament and similar military activities as well as the unilateral and illegal hydrocarbon activities by the Greek Cypriot side in the hydrocarbon reserves that belong to both peoples on the island as also acknowledged by the international community. It is high time that the United Nations Secretary-General urge the Greek Cypriot administration to cooperate with the co-owner Turkish Cypriot side on the issue of hydrocarbon resources around the island as well as on the matters concerning the daily lives of both peoples on the island.
The Turkish Cypriot side will continue to advocate settlement of issues concerning the whole island, including the issue of hydrocarbons, through cooperation, diplomacy and dialogue.