With the meeting held on 21 December 2009, full fledged negotiations aimed at finding a comprehensive solution for theproblem has been completed for the year 2009. As it is known, the two leaders will have the first meeting of the New Year on 4 January 2010.
President Mr. Mehmet Ali Talat and the Greek Cypriot leader Mr. Christofias have met for 46 times in 2009 within the framework of the comprehensive negotiations. During these negotiations, 5 main chapters on the Cyprus problem have been discussed, in addition to the Governance and Power Sharing chapter which has already been discussed since 2008. Working to produce common papers on all issues discussed under the Governance and Power Sharing, the EU and Economic Matters chapters, the issues the two sides have agreed on as well as the issues that need further consideration were determined and 30 common papers were produced in total for 3 main chapters. In the second phase which started on 10 September 2009, all the issues were reviewed once again trying to achieve more convergence. Within this context, for the first time a common paper was produced on Property issue.
During the year that we have almost left behind, the two leaders have also decided to open Yeşilırmak (Limnitis) gate for reciprocal crossings.
Even though it was not as speedy as we expected and did not cover the ratio of the matters we envisaged, it could be said that significant progress has been achieved in the negotiation process particularly on some issues.
While the negotiations were being maintained, the UN Secretary-General Mr. Ban-ki Moon has published a report regarding his good offices mission for the first time in five years. Publication of this report is an indication that it has been reached to an important stage at the negotiation process. In his report, the UN Secretary-General Mr. Ban pointed out that the two leaders have achieved significant progress in the negotiations and that at the moment, there is an important window of opportunity for the solution of the Cyprus problem. The UN Secretary-General Mr. Ban also underlined that the comprehensive negotiations should result in a solution within a reasonable time frame.
As you all know, the two leaders have committed to achieve more convergence during the intensified negotiations that will be held in January. This approach is in line with the expectations of primarily the UN and the whole international community.
It should be stated that we will continue to employ a constructive and progressive approach in the negotiations that will be held in January as we did until today. Our common policy with Turkey is to reach a lasting solution within the UN parameters. President Mr. Talat is determined to maintain its increasing efforts for a solution of this kind.
Meanwhile, we have been observing that the interest of the international community is focusing on the Cyprus problem.
The statements made on the occasion of the Prime Minister of– who will be the EU’s next Term President in the New Year - Mr. Jose Zapatero’s visit to South Cyprus were new indications of this fact.
The fact that Mr. Zapatero has announced before his visit to South Cyprus that he will invite President Mr. Mehmet Ali Talat to Spain should be accepted as the first sign that the new EU Presidency will employ a balanced and constructive position in terms of the Cyprus problem. As a matter of fact, the Spanish authorities have conveyed this intention of theirs to our Presidency. As a next step, the organization of the said visit will be done.
However, the approach found in the evaluations made as a result of Mr. Zapatero’s visit to South Cyprus, that Spain is trying to shoulder the role of “an arbitrator” in the solution of the Cyprus problem should be considered cautiously. As it is known, while the Greek Cypriot side is spending efforts to exploit its EU membership against Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots, it is not possible for the EU to become an arbitrator. Besides, the negotiations aiming to find a comprehensive solution for the Cyprus problem are being maintained by the two leaders and under the supervision of the UN Secretary-General. The Turkish side is in favor of maintaining this effort and other elements to support the efforts in this field.In any case, there are roles to be shouldered for the EU and for particularly the leaders of the member states that take over the Term Presidency in terms of the Cyprus problem. For Spain to be able to help solution of the Cyprus problem during this term, it will be enough to stop the initiatives of the Greek Cypriot side to exploit its EU membership against Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot side. Adoption of such a position will make the Greek Cypriot side understand once again that it can not exploit the EU advantages for its own interests and it will lead them to focus their attention on the comprehensive settlement negotiations.