Turkish, Greek Cypriots held 58 talks in 2009 without deal

2009 has been a year of negotiations in Cyprus aiming to find a comprehensive settlement to Cyprus problem.

Turkish, Greek Cypriots held 58 talks in 2009 without deal

2009 has been a year of negotiations in Cyprus aiming to find a comprehensive settlement to Cyprus problem.

President Mehmet Ali Talat of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) and Greek Cypriot leader Demetris Christofias set the procedures of negotiations at the buffer zone in Lefkosa on September 3, 2008 and began comprehensive negotiations on September 11, 2008.

Talat and Christofias have held 58 meetings till December 14, 2009. Leaders are expected to have another meeting till the end of 2009.

Negotiations will continue at the houses of the two leaders, instead of the United Nations (UN) headquarters, in January 2010. TRNC aims to get an outcome from the intensified "home diplomacy" that will take place at Christofias' house on three days, and at Talat's house on three other days.

Accordingly, negotiations will be at Christofias' house on January 11, 12 and 13 and at Talat's house on January 18, 19 and 20, 2010.

On October 13, 2008, TRNC and Greek Cypriot administration reciprocally announced that they had cancelled Toros and Nikiforos military exercises, like in the previous year.

Britain reiterated the proposal it made in 2004 to give conditional territories from two bases in Cyprus in case Cyprus problem was solved.

First round completed on August 6

Turkish and Greek Cypriot parties completed the first round of negotiations with their 40th meeting on August 6, 2009.

Thirty joint texts which listed the compromised and uncompromised issues were prepared at the end of the first round.

The Greek Cypriot administration does not accept any schedule or arbitration regarding negotiations. However, the TRNC says negotiations cannot go on till eternity and aims to get a result before the presidential elections in April 2010. The Turkish Cypriot side also requests that the UN should actively involve in issues on which the two parties cannot reach any compromise.

Alexander Downer, the special adviser to UN secretary general on Cyprus, and Taye Brook Zerihoun, the special representative of the UN secretary general in Cyprus, also participated in ongoing Cyprus negotiations.

Two parties express their positions in first round

Turkish and Greek Cypriot parties had expressed their positions in the first round of negotiations, and discussed six main topics regarding the Cyprus problem. Serious differences of opinion were seen between the two parties in the first round.

The main topics in the first round were management and share of power; property; European Union (EU); economic issues, territory; and security and guarantees.

After negotiating all the topics, the two parties re-handled management and share of power in their last meeting in the first round and discussed "citizenship, foreigners, migration and refuge." Under this topic, the Greek Cypriots brought up the status of TRNC citizens of Turkish origin.

The Greek Cypriot administration claims that TRNC citizens of Turkish origin "pose a security threat for they have undergone an intense military training by the Turkish army", and argues that these people should leave the island in case of a settlement. Turkish Cypriot side says it will not accept discrimination among its citizens.

The federal administration, debated under the management and share of power topic, was the sole issue on which two parties had made no progress or rapprochement.

The Greek Cypriot administration proposes presidential system that envisages election of the president and vice-president from a single list and their election by directly popular vote, whereas Turkish Cypriot side suggests a chairmanship council system like in Switzerland in which members will be elected by the senate.

Joint text

With the initiative of the Turkish Cypriot side, the two parties worked on a joint text on management and share of power, EU and economic issues. The two parties set the issues that required more discussion and on which compromise had been reached, and prepared 30 joint texts.

The Turkish and Greek Cypriot parties could not prepare a joint text on property, territory, security and guarantees since they could not make any progress.

TRNC and the Greek Cypriot administration prepared joint texts to see whether they had perceived their positions correctly, and to see clearly the point they had reached whenever they re-handled the issues.

In the first round, the Turkish Cypriot side proposed the formulation in the Annan plan regarding a new state while the Greek Cypriot administration did not lay down any proposal.

Agreement should be primary law of EU

The Turkish Cypriot side demanded that a settlement to be reached by the two parties should become a primary law within the legal system of the EU. The Greek Cypriot administration objected to derogations, and argued that the Protocol No. 10 was a sufficient instrument to ensure legal reliability of an agreement.

The two parties did not discuss any map upon the request of the TRNC when they were negotiating territory. The Turkish Cypriot side said possible territorial arrangements should be made in line with the principle of bi-zonal structure and the territorial integrity of the founder states. The TRNC also said the humanitarian dimension of the issue should be taken into consideration, and the territorial arrangements should displace as few people as they could.

However, the Greek Cypriot administration demanded that as many Greek Cypriot migrants as possible should be allowed to return to the areas that would be subject to territorial arrangement.

The Turkish Cypriot side insisted on maintaining the current guarantee system while the Greek Cypriot administration argued that the EU membership ensured enough guarantee and the guarantee system was "outdated."

When they were discussing security and guarantees, the Turkish Cypriot side underlined vital importance of maintenance of 1960 Treaty of Guarantee and Treaty of Alliance, and demanded that these treaties should be adopted to a new agreement like in the Annan plan, and should be maintained.

The Greek Cypriot administration said Cyprus should be purified from soldiers, and this should happen in transition periods that would last short.

Second round began on September 10

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu visited TRNC on September 1 ahead of the second round of negotiations, and made a general assessment with the Turkish Cypriot executives. The messages indicated the uneasiness caused by the Greek Cypriot administration.

A transition tension occurred before the second round of negotiations, and the second round began with a week delay. On September 2, the Greek Cypriots who held a religious mass at the St. Mamas Church in Guzelyurt did not obey with the pre-set procedure and wanted to pass through the Yesilirmak border crossing which was not open for official passages. So, their passage was prevented. The Greek Cypriot administration showed this as a pretext and said it would not join the September 3rd negotiations.

The second round of negotiations, therefore, began on September 10.

New proposal in execution

The second round of negotiations began with "execution" issue, a chapter under the topic of "management and share of power", and parties made their proposals to eliminate their differences of opinion on this issue.

The Turkish Cypriot side partially abandoned the Swiss-model "chairmanship council" proposal, and proposed rotating "chairmanship system". Accordingly, the TRNC proposed that president and vice-president should be elected by the senate instead of by popular vote, and at least three rounds of elections should be made at the senate.

TRNC proposed election by joint ballots in which one Turkish Cypriot and one Greek Cypriot would take place. It also said the joint ballot would aim to determine the senators, president and vice-president.

The Greek Cypriot media said it did not accept the proposal of the Turkish Cypriot side which "took under guarantee the rotating presidency and which charged the senate to elect the president and vice-president" for "there were some deficiencies in the system and for it laid down the pre-conditions of political instability and anarchy."

The ruling Turkish Cypriot National Unity Party (UBP) and the opposition Democrat Party are opposing to Turkish Cypriot side's proposal regarding "execution."

The Greek Cypriot administration demands election of president and vice-president by popular vote.

Property

The two parties made progress in setting the criteria regarding property issue in the second round of negotiations. However, they preserved their position regarding solution of property problem. The Greek Cypriot administration backs the principle that "the first right to speak regarding immovable properties should belong to the 'legitimate' owner."

In the second round, parties negotiated main topics including management and share of power; property and economy; as well as citizenship; foreigners; and migration and refuge.

After the second round, TRNC and Greek Cypriot administration will proceed to "give and take process" and simultaneous referenda will be held on a text on which the two parties reach a compromise. However, parties will consider they have not agreed on any issues if they do not reach a compromise on all the issues.

Aim is to reach a result by February 2010

The aim of the Turkish Cypriot executives was to reach a "settlement at the end of 2008" when the negotiations were launched. Then, the aim was to reach a conclusion before the European Parliament elections in June 2009. Then, executives realized that it was not possible to reach a result with the current pace of negotiations.

The TRNC then aimed at a solution at the end of 2009 or the beginning of 2010. Now, it aims to reach a positive outcome by mid-February, before the Turkish Cypriot presidential election due in April 2010.

Turkish and Greek Cypriot sides are expected to suspend negotiations at the end of February due to the presidential election in TRNC.

Missing persons

The Committee on Missing Persons continued in 2009 its efforts to identify the missing Turkish and Greek Cypriots.

The committee released a statement saying it had reached 585 missing persons, and handed over the remains of 196 missing persons to their families. The committee will continue its endeavors in 2010.

Eleven Turkish Cypriots, who were abducted, shot to death and thrown into a well by Greek Cypriot murderers when they were going to work from Larnaka by bus on May 13, 1964, were laid to rest in TRNC 45 years later.

A documentary film, "Missing Bus" directed by Fevzi Tanpinar, narrated these 11 missing Turkish Cypriots. Their remains were found in October 2006.

Oil

There was tension over oil in the island in 2009, like in previous years. The Greek Cypriot administration defined its oil exploration activities as "using its right to sovereignty".

TRNC President Mehmet Ali Talat warned the Greek Cypriot administration, saying, "it is not so clever to challenge Turkey."

Yesilirmak border crossing

Opening Yesilirmak border crossing was one of the mostly-discussed issues in Cyprus in 2009.

In their 34th meeting on June 26, Cypriot leaders agreed to open the Yesilirmak border crossing to mutual passages. They also decided to open a tender for construction of six-kilometer highway in the region, however a tender has not been opened yet.

Other developments

The British high court returned the request of Turkish Cypriot Airlines (KTHY) to fly directly to Britain on July 29.

The Elders delegation visited the island twice, first on September 11 and then on December 8-9, and met Talat and Christofias.

Leaders planted an olive sapling in the garden of the UN headquarters on October 15. Turkish and Greek Cypriot NGOs supported the leaders.

A person who was working in mine clearing activities in the buffer zone in Lefkosa died on October 28 as a land mine went off.

TRNC President Talat visited Turkey, Sweden, France, the United States, Britain, Finland and Brussels.

38 mln pounds of compensation for Greek Cypriots

The Greek Cypriots continued to apply to the TRNC Immovable Properties Committee to get back or get compensation for their properties that remained in the north of the island.

Around 437 Greek Cypriots applied to the committee between March 17, 2006 and November 26, 2009. 83 of the files were closed with mutual agreement, and four of them through a trial.

The committee decided for an exchange and compensation for two applications, and return and compensation for four others. It decided for a return after a settlement for one application, and a partial return for another.

The Immovable Properties Committee paid 38.1 million British pounds to the applicants till November 26, 2009.

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Last Mod: 02 Ocak 2010, 17:32
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