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Cyprus talks stall as Turkey insists on EU freedoms for Turkish settlers, no troops withdrawal

UN-sponsored Cyprus talks at Crans-Montana, Switzerland, stalled on Thursday as the Turkish side insists to promote EU freedoms for the Turkish settlers in the occupied north part of the island. The issue triggered the intervention of  Maarten Verwey, Director General of the Structural Reform Support Service of the European Commission, but no solution was found. Hope to break the deadlock is high as United Nations General Secretary Antonio Guterres arrived on Friday morning.

The European Single Market, Internal Market or Common Market is a single market that seeks to guarantee the free movement of goods, capital, services, and labour – the “four freedoms” – within the European Union (EU).

These four freedoms are not possible for Turkish citizens as Turkey is not EU member.

Reliable sources told Cyprus News Agency that the issue was raised by the Turkish Cypriot side both at the Thursday morning discussion at the level of the bicommunal talks and in the afternoon during the meeting of the two negotiating teams with their technocrats. Verwey’s explanation was deemed as important by the UN as he clarified points regarding the four freedoms which are implemented in all EU member states, and who and how enjoy these freedoms.

No progress has been achieved during the Cyprus talks on Thursday also on the issues of securities and guarantees other than the replies to questions which the Under Secretary of the UN Jeffrey Feltman posed.

When the four freedoms were raised, President Nicos Anastasiades said it is an issue that concerns Turkish nationals and not Turkish Cypriots and that if it did then he could consider its limits.

The continuation of the Cyprus talks Conference on Friday in the presence of the UN Secretary-General, who will arrive via Geneva in Crans Montana in the morning, is expected to be more indicative of the Turkish side’s intentions.

Turkey’s foreign minister on Thursday scolded Greece and Greek Cypriots to “wake up from their dream” that Ankara will withdraw all of its troops from Cyprus and give up military rights there as part of any deal to reunify the ethnically-divided island.

Turkish troops and security “guarantees” are at the core of United Nations-sponsored negotiations between Greek Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci now underway in Switzerland.

The top diplomats from the island’s ‘guarantors’ — Turkey, Greece and Britain — are also participating in the talks, which Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu warned Thursday were the last chance for Cyprus’ reunification.

“This is the final conference. We cannot be negotiating these issues in this way forever,” Cavusoglu told reporters at his hotel in the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana.

At the same time, he strongly rejected one of the top terms sought by Anastasiades and Greece: complete removal of the more than 35,000 troops Turkey keeps in the island’s breakaway northern third.”

“That is their dream. They should wake up from this dream and they should abandon this dream,” said Cavusoglu, adding that Greek and Greek Cypriot negotiators should come up with “more reasonable proposals.”

Anastasiades said the second day of meetings on Thursday had made no real progress and that the talks were procedurally log-jammed.

But he said that Cavusoglu indicated he would soften his proposals on security to make them more palatable to Greek Cypriots if there was progress on other key issues that remain to be sorted out in parallel negotiations.

Speaking to reporters on Friday, Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias said “Yesterday, an attempt was made to force the negotiations. We averted this with clarity. We will not allow anyone to ask for all or nothing. The negotiations are aimed at our reaching a compromise that benefits all sides. I explained to my colleagues that the Greek Cypriot side, like Greece, has the Law and the force of the Law, while the other side has the occupation and the army. This is the negotiation.”

The UN-sponsored Cyprus talks continue on Friday, with UN General Secretary Antonio Guterres to have arrived in Crans-Montana to meet the delegations..

PS Turkey will not go a long way if it keeps its troops on the island state.

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