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Interview by Alternate Minister of Foreign Affairs, G. Katrougalos, in the Cyprus News Agency, with journalist A. Zachariadis (Athens, 30/11/2018)
JOURNALIST: The Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs declared, during a recent interview to the Cypriot newspaper “Politis”, that Ankara is ready to discuss every method of resolving the Cyprus issue, including a confederation as well as the creation of two states. What is the stance of Athens? Is there any discussion beyond the framework of the bizonal and bicommunal federation?
G. KATROUGALOS: The long-standing national stance, which is fully in line with Greek interests as well as the relevant UN resolutions and International Law is a bizonal, bicommunal federation with full sovereignty of the federal state. Clearly, the supposed “solution” of two states - as well as a confederation, as a preliminary stage of this “solution,” does not constitute a solution but rather the opposite, confirmation of the division and subsequent legitimisation of the Turkish invasion.
JOURNALIST: How near or how far are we from restarting negotiations on the Cyprus issue? A cycle of talks is pending with Mrs. Lute. Is there any new information with regard to the timetable?
G. KATROUGALOS: Indeed, there is another round of talks and I shall meet with Mrs. Lute on 12 December in New York. Our side's - and when I speak about our side, it goes without saying that I mean both Greece and the Republic of Cyprus - long-standing wish is for the Cyprus issue to be resolved, and we consider the perpetuation of the status quo as a continuous breach of International Law. It depends on the other side, and especially on Turkey, whether progress will be made in the negotiations. It will depend upon its will to participate in good faith in a substantial dialogue - among other things also through preliminary talks - if and when there will finally be a positive outcome. It does not depend on artificial timetables.
JOURNALIST: Has Athens been informed about a potential reduction and or departure of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus, in the event that talks do not recommence soon?
G. KATROUGALOS: We have been informed that such thoughts exist, but we consider these counterproductive. It is especially important for the mandate of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force to be maintained.
JOURNALIST: Recently, in Cyprus, the aspect of security is being discussed, accompanied by the possibility of incorporating a unified Cyprus into NATO, in the event of a solution. What is Athens’ stance on this issue?
G. KATROUGALOS: Our long-standing position on eliminating the anachronistic system of guarantees and the withdrawal of the occupying forces was promoted with clarity at Crans-Montana, and we shall continue in this vein. Any security structure in a reunified Cyprus must be based on a Resolution adopted by the United Nations Security Council and clearly presupposes an active role on the part of the UN. This will also have to be the main criterion for any discussion related to security in the Republic of Cyprus.
JOURNALIST: Is Greece ready to face possible obstruction of the Republic of Cyprus’ energy programme? In what ways?
G. KATROUGALOS: We are systematically coordinating, with sobriety and decisiveness, our action and the steps we shall take in this issue, as with all other issues, with the full support of the Republic of Cyprus. We have indeed together managed to support the self-evident sovereign rights of the Republic of Cyprus by the European Union and by other significant partners, for the first time so clearly and so firmly. Furthermore, the trilateral and other cooperations that we have developed in the region have especially strengthened our diplomatic and defence position.
JOURNALIST: Does the fact concern you that the trilateral cooperations being developed by Cyprus and Greece in the region may perhaps create a feeling of isolation in Turkey, resulting in increased tension?
G. KATROUGALOS: Turkey’s current stance with regard to its neighbours is not a result of action on our part, but a result of it challenging International Law and its revisionist efforts by projecting power. Its restlessness most likely gives away the fact that this tactic is not successful. On our part, we shall continue to work towards dialogue with the neighbouring country as well as maintaining the necessary diplomatic channels.