Turkish Cypriot President Mustafa Akinci has reiterated his commitment to secure an agreement with the Greek Cypriots to end over four decades of division in Cyprus, this will see the establishment of a rotational presidential system shared between the island’s two communities.
Speaking to journalists on Wednesday, the President Akinci said the rotational presidency would indicate political equality between Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots in what would be a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation.
“This issue is an indispensable part of our political equality,” Akinci said, pointing out that no agreement had yet been reached regarding political power-sharing.
“We remain committed to a bi-zonal, bi-communal federal settlement,” he added.
Cyprus was divided in July 1974, when guarantor state Turkey conducted a military intervention on the island to secure the island’s north as a safe haven for the Turkish Cypriot community in response to a coup instigated by the military junta ruling Greece at the time.
Since 1974, Turkey has maintained a military presence in the island’s breakaway Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) - which declared independence in 1983 - followed by decades of on-again-off-again negotiations failing to bring about a lasting agreement.
Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot negotiators have been meeting frequently since the peace talks between the eastern Mediterranean island’s two main communities were revived on May 15 following Mustafa Akinci’s election as president of the TRNC in April.
Talks had previously been suspended for seven months when the Greek Cypriot side withdrew from the negotiation table after a disagreement with the Turkish Cypriot side over offshore hydrocarbon exploration in the island’s exclusive economic zone.
Despite the steady progress of peace talks, some issues continue to remain hot topics of contention, particularly the 1960 Treaty of Guarantee, which grants Turkey, Greece and the island’s former colonial ruler Britain the right to militarily intervene to secure peace in Cyprus.
Greek Cypriot administration leader Nicos Anastasiades previously demanded in an interview with CNN Turk’s Elif Ozgen that Turkey withdraws its troops from the island’s north as a pre-condition for reaching a political solution with the Turkish Cypriots, while suggesting that a reunited Cyprus should not have guarantors.
President Akinci, however, told reporters on Wednesday that the matter of guarantors had not yet been discussed with all the concerned parties, but made it clear that any settlement agreed upon would provide freedom, equality and security.