Cyprus President Demetris Christofias has outlined his vision for the future of Cyprus, which translates into the reunification of the island under a federal roof on the basis of European principles and international law.
He also said that Turkey, whose troops continue to occupy Cyprus’ northern areas, holds the key to reunification and suggested that Ankara could make a good will gesture by withdrawing up to half of its troops from Cyprus (it maintains about 40,000 men).
Christofias stressed that the solution must be found by the Cypriots for the Cypriots and said once Cyprus is reunited, it can become a paradise and an important spring-board for the European Union, which it joined in May 2004.
Speaking today at the “breakfast policy briefing” of the European Policy Centre in Brussels, he said, “I am optimist that the future for Cyprus will be bright and peaceful”.
“My vision for the future of Cyprus is a vision for the reunification of the island and for a federal bi-zonal bi-communal Republic of Cyprus, and I consider my vision to be the vision of all the Cypriots, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots who love their homeland” President Christofias noted.
The President recalled that the late President of Cyprus Archbishop Makarios III took a fundamental step towards reconciliation and a historic and a courageous decision to accept the transformation of the unitary state to a bi-zonal, bi-communal federal state, in order to give the opportunity to the Turkish Cypriots to feel more secure and more confident.
Christofias also stressed that Raulf Denktash, the former leader of the Turkish Cypriot community signed with Makarios the 1977 High Level Agreement, which provided that “the unitary state would be transformed into a bi-zonal, bi-communal federal state”. However, Christofias added, “Denktash changed his position and was referring to two peoples and two states in Cyprus”.
“Evidence of this unconstructive attitude can be found in recent statements of the Turkish National Security Council and the Turkish Cypriot leadership, which continue to refer to the existence of two ‘states, two peoples and two republics’ in Cyprus,” Christofias stressed, and noted that he has reached a series of agreements with Mehmet Ali Talat when he was the leader of the Republican Turkish Party.
“There are many documents on which the Republican Turkish Party and AKEL (the party Christofias leads) have defined many principles for the solution of the Cyprus problem. And these principles are the same with the ones that are included in many UN documents and resolutions” he added.
President Christofias said that he is ready to sit down with Mehmet Ali Talat and “to frankly exchange opinions on the basis we have agreed in the past”.
“The Republic of Cyprus should be transformed to a bi-zonal, bi-communal federal state, with one and single sovereignty, one international personality, and one and single citizenship,” he said, referring to the basis of a Cyprus solution.
The President advocated the demilitarisation of the United Republic of Cyprus, something which he said has already been agreed with the Turkish Cypriot leader.
Christofias categorically rejected any notion of two states in Cyprus, an idea promoted by Turkey which refers to what it calls “virgin birth” and a “new partnership state”.
Replying to questions, Christofias clarified that the joint statement he and Talat issued after their meeting in late May refers to a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation, with political equality, as defined by UN resolutions.
“In order to help my friend Mehmet Ali Talat, we mentioned the final result of the federation (the two constituent states). The Turkish Cypriots consider that as the starting point, meaning that there are already two states that will decide for the common fate”, President Christofias explained.
Now, he added, the Turkish Cypriot leadership is citing changes and new realities to promote the idea of two states in Cyprus.
The President said that indeed there are new realities on the island and the most significant reality is that the Republic of Cyprus is the legal and recongised state, it is a member of the EU, it belongs to all Cypriots, Greek and Turkish Cypriots, and this state will have to evolve to a federal state.
Cyprus, he stressed, does not need guarantees of the two motherlands (Greece and Turkey), nor does it need protection and guarantees.
Christofias announced that he would be meeting Talat again by late June and again in July. He talked about confidence building measures, saying these should include demanning in the old city of Nicosia, the divided capital of Cyprus and opening a new crossing point on the northwest of the island to facilitate movement to and from the occupied areas.