Turkey’s FM rejects removing Cyprus troops as part of deal

Turkey’s FM rejects removing Cyprus troops as part of deal

With the Cyprus Conference at the Swiss resort of Cras Montana in its second week, there were no signs, at least until late Tuesday, of a breakthrough that could lead to a deal to reunify the ethnically-divided island.

If anything, there was gloom as Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu was emphatic in his reiteration that the key demand of Greece and the Greek Cypriots for the withdrawal of Turkish troops from the island as part of any agreement, is a “non-starter” for Ankara. 

Speaking to reporters, Cavusoglu said that anyone believing that Turkey will remove its troops as part of any deal to reunify Cyprus under a federal umbrella is “dreaming” and should “wake up.” 

Cavusoglu has also rejected the other key Greek demand for the abolition of the “anachronistic” system of guarantees that grants rights of intervention to third countries.

When asked by Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias on Monday night why Ankara insists on retaining the system, Cavusoglu, reportedly, said: “We want to retain rights of intervention so we can use them.” The right of intervention, he added, will remain until Turkish Cypriots feel safe.

For his part, Kotzias appeared unfazed with what Greeks describe as Turkish inflexibility. “I think that the Turks are very nervous, and we are very determined,” he said, as the Greek demand to abolish the system of guarantees has also been backed by the UK, which, along with Greece and Turkey, are the island’s guarantor powers.

Representatives of the European Union, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres are also toeing the same line.

Meanwhile, Athens presented its positions on what a settlement would look like in terms of security arrangements.

Among its proposals is a “sunset clause” which would state the precise date when the last Turkish soldier leaves the island. It also proposed the creation of a mechanism to monitor the implementation of an agreement.

According to Greece, the mechanism will involve the UN and not the guarantor powers. Athens has also called a friendship treaty to be signed between Turkey, Greece and Cyprus that will deal with issues such as migration, terrorism and others. 

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