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Joint statements of the Foreign Minister of the Republic of Cyprus, I. Kasoulides, and Foreign Minister N. Kotzias following their working luncheon at the Foreign Ministry (Nicosia, 18 July 2017)
I. KASOULIDES: I had the great pleasure of hosting my brother, the Foreign Minister of Greece, Mr. Kotzias, here at the Foreign Ministry, and the even greater pleasure of your giving me the opportunity to hold the press conference here.
The substance of the matter can be summarized in a few words: that a battle was fought for the Cyprus problem at Crans-Montana, hand in hand with Greece. President Anastasiades and Nikos Kotzias fought the battle, on a field where the battle had never been fought before. On the field of guarantees, rights of intervention, and security.
A solution was not achieved because these following elements were missing: that is, that Cyprus has the right to be a normal state, and those are not my words; they are the words of the UN Secretary-General. It has the right for guarantees and rights of intervention not to be included in any agreement, because they are non-sustainable -these too are not my words, but the words of the UN Secretary-General. So, from what I understand, this is where the next battles will be fought, if the international community wants to first persuade Turkey to accept, and if the Turkish Cypriots prefer the resolution of the Cyprus problem to being rendered fully subservient to Turkey. But the floor belongs to the Foreign Minister of Greece, Nikos Kotzias.
N. KOTZIAS: I once said, here in Nicosia, that Cyprus is emotion and sentiment. And of course, when I am with Ioannis Kasoulides, the Foreign Minister of Cyprus, with whom we collaborate so well, I am even more deeply moved.
Today I had the great honour of being invited by the President of the Republic, Mr. Anastasiades, to attend a meeting of the National Council. I remind you that this is a gesture that comes following another invitation, an invitation to Mr. Kasoulides, who attended a special session of the National Council on Foreign Policy, where we discussed the Cyprus issue, and in fact he led the discussion that day.
I think that the negotiations on the Cyprus issue, and the absolutely positive manner in which we worked together with the Cypriot government and, first and foremost, President Anastasiades, brought the two countries and the two peoples even closer together. Two peoples with common values, common principles, a great common history and culture. Two societies and two peoples that have a common history going back thousands of years. Today, in the Cypriot National Council, I listened carefully to the presidents of the political parties and the former Presidents of the Republic, as well as the current President of the Republic. I also presented, from my part, the experience I gained at Crans-Montana: what we saw and how we saw it.
There, we saw a Turkey that played with words, but when decision-time came, it demonstrated lack of will. It was not yet ready, for a substantial solution. We made great gains there: we were able to put the issue of guarantees and security on the Cyprus-problem agenda. There is no question that, in every future negotiation, this will be the issue from which the negotiations begin.
But beyond the great honour of participating in the National Council, an invitation the President of the Republic, Mr. Anastasiades, was generous enough to extend to me, I also had the honour and, I would say, the good fortune of speaking with Mr. Kasoulides, with the Cypriot Foreign Ministry's delegation, together with our delegation, about how we can further intensify the relations between the two states, about how we will proceed from here, regarding the issues we have a say on, for a future solution of the Cyprus issue. About how we need to conduct ourselves and how to capitalise on the capabilities provided by the European Union, and about how we will handle the negotiations, in the coming months, on the EU-Turkish customs union.
We also talked about many other aspects of our cooperation, even our cooperation on communication issues. I would like once again to thank the Cypriot government, and in particular Ioannis Kasoulides, for the hospitality and for the manner in which he always moves us when we meet, for his passion and love for the great universal human values, the sovereignty and independence of Cyprus, the friendship between Cyprus and Greece. Thank you.
JOURNALIST: An observation or clarification. It is my impression that the term 'normal state' ...
N. KOTZIAS: I must say that I see it as a great honour that wordings I have used from time to time on specific major problems have been adopted by major figures and have taken on their own dynamic. Ideas are not to be kept for oneself. They are to be transferred.
The wording, the phrase, was "normal state"; that is, a normal or, one might say, legally speaking, a regular state. And let me take this opportunity to explain something: we went to the negotiations where everyone started saying one, two, three, four, etc. And I said, great. For us to judge points one, two, three, four, we have to determine what the goal of this conference is. And I posed this simple question to them: is it our common goal that Cyprus should be a regular, normal state? That is, an independent state with territorial integrity and full sovereignty? If we agree on that and no one disagrees, let's talk about the path we need to take to get there. In my opinion and the opinion of the Republic of Cyprus, this path is Cyprus's release from the bonds of the two treaties of 1959-1960, Zurich and London, the Treaty of Guarantee and the Treaty of Alliance.
JOURNALIST: The question I want to ask is, with regard to Turkey, whether you see a prospect of Turkey's adopting a constructive stance on the Cyprus issue, given that it hasn't cleared up the Syria issue, it hasn't cleared up the Kurdish issue, and it also has ahead of it the presidential elections of 2019, which Erdogan is very eager to win, aspiring to be President on the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Republic of Turkey. Given these circumstances, and if these issues aren't cleared up, does Turkey have any incentive to make a positive move on the Cyprus issue, Mr. Minister?
N. KOTZIAS: What you mentioned are counterincentives, but there exist also incentives. The incentives are its relations with the Western world, the tools the European Union has at its disposal – at this time, the customs union – the international environment in which Turkey is not as successful as it hoped to be. We see it in Syria, where the "invincible" Turkish army is not having such an easy time. There are many domestic controversies in Turkey that can, when they manifest themselves, oblige the country to take a different path. There is an international environment in which we must work so that Turkey is compelled to comply, in the positive sense, creatively, with International Law.
JOURNALIST: I would like to ask, Mr. Kotzias, whether the result we got in Switzerland might free up another process for the Cyprus problem that is aimed more at serving Turkey's schemes? Mr. Cavusoglu has already spoken of thoughts that involve seeking a solution outside the UN parameters. If the outcome was this foundering that took place at the conference, which concerned the issue we all said had not been discussed to date, does this create a situation that, for Greece and Cyprus, is controllable as to the form, from here on in, that a dialogue for a solution to the Cyprus problem might take?
N. KOTZIAS: There is a major question as to whether Turkey led the negotiations to this negative outcome because it has in mind other things it wants to play with. But it isn't the Crans-Montana negotiations that brought "alternative" solutions to Turkey's mind. Our job is to block it from playing with solutions A, B, C, and make it take international law into consideration.
My sense from Geneva I was that many international players, and not just Turkey, believed or thought that what we were saying about guarantees or the abolition of the system of guarantees, of the Treaty and Turkey's "rights" of intervention, as well as the keeping of troops on Cyprus – they thought we were saying those things just to strike a pose, and that we would give in as soon as the negotiations started. Turkey saw that, on these issues, not only did we not give in, but that these issues were included and will be at the top of the agenda for all future negotiations.
My personal opinion is that the references to plans B, C, D, etc., are an element of the negotiation for a solution to the Cyprus problem, in the manner that Turkey wants and understands the negotiations. I want to make a clarification, because here in Cyprus I heard various things about the choices of the Greek government and my personal choices: that the negotiation of the solution to the Cyprus problem is not just the ten days in Crans-Montana or just two days in Geneva. The daily statements, the daily pressures, the alternative solutions drawn up, the manner in which a given side convinced its own society or tried to influence the society of another side, the manner in which one tries to limit certain players or not allow them to recklessly serve third-party interests – all of these things are elements of the negotiations. The negotiations themselves are not independent of everything else. That is why we are talking today about public diplomacy, about citizen diplomacy.
All of these elements are part of the negotiations. The core of the negotiations is negotiation itself. Consequently, when you read about ministerial statements, bear this in mind. It is negotiating its position and trying to avoid being assigned the corresponding blame.
JOURNALIST: In your assessment, Mr. Kotzias, to what extent will there be a new initiative in the near future, in the coming months, because we've heard about some new things.
N. KOTZIAS: We have to work so that a new chance is given to the negotiations on the Cyprus issue, but this new chance must be well prepared and effective. I blame Mr. Eide for, among other things, coming unprepared and without having allowed the necessary preparations for the conference in Switzerland.
JOURNALIST: Provocations from Turkey, particularly in the exclusive economic zone, and our energy policy: a message from each Minister for the compatriots watching us right now.
I. KASOULIDES: My message is that the provocations, as troublesome as they are, are manageable.
N. KOTZIAS: Turkey is a country that has difficulty adapting to international law. The job of the Foreign Ministries is to help it understand its obligations.