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Exclusive Interview: Kasoulides on Cyprus: We will continue the effort, We only have one plan, Plan “A”

Exclusive Interview: Kasoulides on Cyprus: We will continue the effort, We only have one plan, Plan “A”
"We will continue the effort. We only have one plan. Plan “A”. We have no plan “B” or “C” as Turkey had" Ioannis Kasoulides, Cyprus Foreign Minister told IBNA concerning the collapse of the Cyprus talks in Crans Montana and stressed that "if all sides stayed within the parameters of Antonio Guterres, a solution would surely have been found". "The fact that Turkey chose to move away from one of the Guterres parameters is the reason why the talks collapsed", Kasoulides added.  Furthermore concerning the drilling in field 11 of Cyprus' EEZ and the presence of Turkish military vessels, Kasoulides stated that "We have a presence in the open seas of Turkish military vessels [...] where they have the right to go, but there is no trouble".

Read the full interview below:

Minister, do the failed talks at Crans-Montana put an end to negotiations on the Cyprus issue or are you optimistic they will continue?

- I won’t talk about optimism or pessimism, I will tell you our policy. Our policy is that we are prepared to continue, on the six parameters outlined by the Secretary General (SG) himself, and we believe that if Turkey decides to review its stance with regards to its fixation on guarantees and intervention rights and comes to the table within the parameters set by the SG, we can find a solution.

At the end of the Crans-Montana talks there was a series of denouncements by all sides, the Greek, the Turkish, the Greek-Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot with regards to who is to blame for the talks not progressing. It appears that internationally there is now a realization of what is happening in the Cyprus issue.

- For those who want to understand, it was clear there. If all sides stayed within the parameters of Antonio Guterres, a solution could have been found. Rather, it would surely have been found. The fact that Turkey chose to move away from one of the Guterres parameters, the one which said explicitly that guarantees and invasion rights are non-sustainable, is the reason why the talks collapsed. We want what the SG himself said, to be a normal state. A normal state does not need guarantees or invasion rights.

Could we be moving gradually towards a de facto separation of the island?

- This happened in 1974. The problem is if we want to re-unite the island, Greek-Cypriots and Turkish-Cypriots should behave as Cypriots under a common roof, and not under the stiff grip of Turkey as it is today. Today, the occupied part is controlled by the Erdogan regime. Financially, besides the fact that it finances the budget, besides what has always happened, Turkish companies have come to Cyprus, they have monopolized water, tomorrow they want to provide electricity, an office managed by Turkey will educate youth – effectively brainwashing Turkish-Cypriots in favour of Islam. All of these will create conditions for Turkish-Cypriots in which they will lose their Cypriot identity and secularism. It is up to them to choose. Do Cypriots want to unite with Cypriots or do Turkish Cypriots want to unite with Turkey? For us it is a very bad development to have a border with Turkey, a Turkish army in Cyprus, whether by annexation or another form of control over the occupied part. This is why we will continue the effort. We only have one plan. Plan “A”. We have no plan “B” or “C” as Turkey had and it was perfectly clear that its map extends to these other plans simply going through plan “A” which is for a federation.

 The Turkish side spoke of leaks of the Cypriot proposals during the talks…

- So what? Isn’t the important thing what the proposals entail? Is it important if they were leaked beforehand? OK, so we have a somewhat susceptible system; we must discuss with the National Council, may people must have the documents, and they were leaked. Because they were leaked we should not examine them? Of course they saw them. But their communication game was this. Similarly, a communication game was when they said so often that Greek-Cypriots insist on no guarantees and no armies, to portray us as being extreme. We did not say no guarantees. We said no Turkish guarantees. We said yes to guarantees from the UN Security Council and the EU. Why no armies? First of all we would negotiate a schedule of withdrawal. Then there is a second thing. We spoke about UNFICYP staying for a few years, for a multinational police force too. When did we say no armies at all? These are the slogans of the Turkish side which aimed at pointing at extreme views on our part. Our views were not at all extreme. They were conciliatory, aiming at reaching an agreement.

You said before that the UN and the EU could be the guarantor powers for security in Cyprus. How sure are you that the EU helped in this direction?

- Mr. Timmermans came and in front of everyone referred to articles of the Lisbon Treaty and other mechanisms through which the EU could guarantee constitutional order of member-states, etc. He explained this himself. It is not a separate guarantee. Everything that guarantees for Greece, Italy, Slovenia, etc. the EU guarantees for Cyprus too. .

Are you confident that there will be a new effort soon?

- I repeat. It depends if Turkey is finally convinced that there was a chance to solve the Cyprus issue. Don’t tell me Turkey doesn’t lose from not finding a solution. It loses. If it is convinced, then it is time to send the message that within the Guterres parameters we can solve the Cyprus issue.

Lately, since research and drilling began in field 11 we’ve had trouble…

- The situation is under control. We don’t have trouble. We have a presence in the open seas of Turkish military vessels. I mean where they have the right to go. But there is no trouble. The Barbaros research vessel came up to block 6 whose upper part is claimed by Turkey because they say it supposedly belongs to their continental shelf, but it has not yet began seismic research.

The next steps in cooperation, upon the visit of Mr. Kotzias to Cyprus, and the talks at the National Council, the meeting with the President and the working dinner that will be held, will determine the course of Greece and Cyprus.

- Look, we are at this period reflecting as we were asked by the UN SG. In this context the National Council today, the parties, put forth their views and ideas but together with the Greek Foreign Minister Mr. Kotzias we must reflect on how we will proceed in tandem and what actions we will take./ΙΒΝΑ

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