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Foreign Minister N. Kotzias' interview with Euronews TV (16 January 2017)

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Foreign Minister N. Kotzias' interview with Euronews TV (16 January 2017)JOURNALIST: Mr. Minister, let me start with all of the latest developments following the Geneva Conference, with everything we've heard about you from your Turkish counterpart Mr. Cavusoglu, who said that you left the negotiating table, and then regarding the latest report from an international news network, which got a lot of play, about your role in the negotiations from here on.

N. KOTZIAS: It is well known that the Greek government and I, as Foreign Minister, are striving persistently for a solution to the Cyprus problem. What we are also doing persistently is defining what the solution to the Cyprus problem is. We are not trying to solve a mathematical equation, nor are we considering how a house is to be built. We are trying to solve a political international problem that arose from the illegal occupation of Cyprus by Turkish armed forces in 1974. Consequently, the solution to the Cyprus problem is for the Turkish armed forces to leave through a process that we have proposed and discussed, and for the elimination of the status being invoked by Turkey, from the Zurich and London Treaties, according to which -- and illegally in my opinion -- they can intervene in Cyprus whenever they see fit because they are a guarantor power.

This issue -- the guarantees, the rights of intervention and the continued presence of the army -- is the core of the Cyprus problem. It is well known that the Greek government wants to see the Cyprus issue settled, and, among other things, this means the maximum rights for the Turkish Cypriots and the maximum sense of security for the Greek Cypriots. In other words, for the armed forces to leave. A lot of people don't like this, and that's why, every time there is a meeting on Cyprus, they accuse me because I represent this line, which is the line of the Greek government, in consultation with the Cypriots.

JOURNALIST: Are you referring to the Turks? To the Turkish side?

N. KOTZIAS: It's not just the Turkish side. There are also other international players who think it is good for there to be some sort of occupation of Cyprus, because their interests are in line with Turkish interests.

JOURNALIST: Who are you referring to?

N. KOTZIAS: That's easy. You are a good journalist. You can figure it out. So, the substance of the matter is that their stance is reflected in the types of news reports you referred to. And it is important for us to make a clear distinction. We had an invitation to come to Geneva for political consultations on the Cyprus issue on Thursday and Friday. As soon as we arrive on Thursday, we receive a text from the UN regarding the type of political consultations for Friday. And suddenly they come to us, on Friday, and say they can't have political consultations and that we'll carry out the consultations through technical teams. We responded that, in order for the technical teams to convene, the political leaderships -- that is, the leaderships of the Foreign Ministries and the leaders of the two Cypriot communities, the Turkish Cypriot leader and the President of the Republic of Cyprus -- need to have agreed on how these teams will work, with what content, with what questions and to what end. And there, suddenly, Mr. Cavusoglu responded -- of all things -- that he had arranged to leave. We told him not to leave on Friday, but to stay so we could talk for three or four hours based on the scheduling we had. He left. He went to Ankara and said we had run out on the negotiations -- while we were still in Geneva -- and that he had accomplished a major feat.

JOURNALIST: I want to focus a little on the guarantees. You say from the outset -- and this is the firm Greek stance -- that the occupation forces must withdraw. But after the Conference, Mr. Erdogan came out and claimed that this will never happen. So, do you think there are still grounds for talks?

N. KOTZIAS: There is a saying: "Never say never."

JOURNALIST: But he said it. So, do these statements indicate to you that they want a solution at this stage?

N. KOTZIAS: They will show the extent to which they want a solution at the negotiating table. And I must say -- with the experience I have of negotiations, for decades now, and the knowledge I have accumulated on the subject of Cyprus -- that when someone wants a solution, they will show it in the discussion of the core of the problem. If someone doesn't want a solution, they may not let the talks get to that point where they will have to show their true intentions. We will reach that point, and Turkey has to show its true intentions. Does it want a solution, or does it want legal coverage for its illegal actions?