President of the Republic Nicos Anastasiades explained on Tuesday that decentralized powers in a Cyprus settlement create a feeling of security for Turkish Cypriots, put an end to Turkey’s excuses to maintain guarantor and intervention rights and addresses the concerns of Greek Cypriots for functionality and viability of a solution.
He made the remarks in his opening speech where he addressed the people of Cyprus on Tuesday evening regarding his proposal for a decentralised federation as a form of settlement of the Cyprus problem.
The President clarified that as a responsible leader, he cannot disregard the dangers of a protracted stalemate and he will not accept a solution that will result with a dysfunctional state while a second rejection by the people of a solution will be catastrophic.
He further underlined that decentralized authority is one thing and a loose federation another, adding that his proposal is not new since he submitted a similar one at a National council meeting in April 2010.
The President referred to the 1977 agreement for a bizonal, bicommunal federation, noting that it was a painful yet historic compromise for the future status of the Cyprus state.
Since then, he noted, his six predecessors have made relentless efforts to find a solution that, without disregarding the concerns of the Turkish Cypriots, would also safeguard the “reasonable expectations of Greek Cypriots seeking a solution with a strong central government to ensure the unity of the State, the people, the economy and the institutions ".
Such solution, would fully respect human rights and fundamental freedoms of all the people of the island.
At this point, the president said that any efforts failed not as a result of lack of political will but due to the Turkish intransigence. He further recalled the rejection of the Annan plan in twin referendums on 24 April 2004, whereby Greek Cypriots overwhelmingly rejected it with 75.8 per cent voting against, while Turkish Cypriots accepted it, with 64.9 per cent in favour.
During the recent negotiations, President Anastasiades said, there was progress on some issues but also great differences remained that did not allow achieving a solution that would lead to a functional, viable and fully independent and sovereign state, to a “normal state, as the SG himself said”.
President Anastasiades further said that since his election, he made it clear that for there to be effective negotiation with a prospect for a solution, Turkey would have to become involved so that the international angle of the Cyprus problem is discussed, ie, ending the anachronistic system of guarantees and intervention rights and the complete withdrawal of Turkish troops.
The EU also became involved so that a solution would fully comply with the acquis communautaire.
President Anastasiades said that during the recent intense negotiations, for the first time maps were tabled outlining territorial adjustments while Turkey for the first time, was directly involved in dialogue and negotiations on the Security chapter.
He also said that during the Crans Montana talks, one could not disregard the Guterres Framework presented on June 30 which acknowledged the need to end guarantees and intervention rights from day one of a solution and provisions that would lead to ending their presence.
The President said that one of the important elements that he pointed out concerning the proper functioning of the State was the claim of the Turkish Cypriot side for effective participation, noting out that the matter should be discussed further in relation to the issue of a positive vote, namely when and under what conditions and in which bodies this could be exercised, with concurrent provisions for mechanisms to resolve issues that have reached deadlock.
Pointing to those who challenge his intentions against the SG’s framework, the President said he would be “insane to reject” what the Greek Cypriot side has long claimed and which the SG’s framework outlines to be included in the agenda of the discussions.
Anastasiades further said that any new conference on Cyprus should be well prepared so we are not led to a new catastrophic impasse.
He further explained that from his experience at the negotiations he realises "the Turkish Cypriot community has a strong concern that the Greek Cypriot community, as the majority community, will abuse power with the danger of Turkish Cypriots being put on the sidelines”.
To address their concerns, they claimed the right to a positive vote in every decision of the Central State institutions, he said, whether this concerns the Cabinet or other institutions.
At the same time, Greek Cypriots have reasonable concerns that such right granted to the Turkish Cypriots will create a non functional state and insecurity for the future, something that will be further exacerbated by the continued presence of the system of guarantees and the permanent presence of the Turkish occupation forces.
President Anastasiades said that after serious concern and in order to eliminate the fears of both communities, but also to achieve a workable and viable solution, he “submitted to the National Council as food for thought the issue of decentralization”, emphasizing that he means decentralization of those powers that concern the day-to-day lives of citizens and would not question the single sovereignty, international identity of the state, the unity of the people, economy, natural wealth and territory, defence and security as well as manning the borders of the federal state and the exclusive and effective participation of the federal state to the EU, UN and other international organisations.
Decentralisation of powers is one thing and loose federation another, the president underlined.
The greater administrative autonomy creates a feeling of security for Turkish Cypriots, removes the insistence on a positive vote on all decisions as well as Turkey’s excuses to maintain guarantee and intervention rights for the so called protection of Turkish Cypriots from arbitrary decisions of the Greek Cypriot side, he added.
At the same time, the President said, it addresses the concerns of Greek Cypriots for the functionality and viability of the state, addressing the feelings of insecurity that the new state of affairs will collapse.
He repeated that his proposal is “food for thought” aimed at lifting the concerns of both communities and to create conditions to restart a creative dialogue that will lead us to finding a solution and not to a catastrophic deadlock…”
As a responsible leader, I cannot disregard the dangers of the protracted stalemate and at the same time, that is why I cannot remain inert and accept a solution that will lead us to a non-functional state, Anastasiades said.
Ignoring legitimate concerns, he remarked, might lead to a second and definitively destructive rejection by the people of a solution “ and this is something I do not want and will never seek", he added.
The president further underlined that everyone has the right to their views and to disagree with his handling but under no circumstances he will accept questioning the sincerity of his efforts to resume the dialogue that will lead to a viable solution.
Fourty-four years after the invasion and after tens of rounds of unproductive negotiations, the least we can do is to think about how to lift the stalemate and how to reach a solution that will address the reasonable concerns of both communities, Anastasiades said.
For this reason he called on the political powers to formulate common positions that will allow for creative dialogue and a new round of negotiations and an acceptable solution for both communities.
President Anastasiades answered questions on his proposal for a decentralised federation, in the presence of media representatives from TV stations, newspapers and the Cyprus News Agency.
On November 12, the National Council is set to meet anew. Government Spokesman Prodromos Prodromou had said that the President is expected to inform the members of the top advisory body on the Cyprus issue regarding his meeting with Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci on October 26 and with the UN Secretary General’s envoy Jane Holl Lute, last Wednesday.