Greece wants to talk security before Cyprus conference

Greece wants to talk security before Cyprus conference

Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias said Greece and Turkey should first come to an agreement on the aspects of security and guarantees, before a new Conference on Cyprus is convened.

Speaking on radio station Sto Kokkino in Greece, the minister said Athens had previously underlined the need for such an agreement before the parties met in Geneva and subsequently in Crans Montana last year.

The foreign minister pointed fingers at the former UN special advisor, Espen Barth Eide, saying the Norwegian diplomat was the reason that preparatory work on Greece’s proposal had been left incomplete. 

As a result, security and guarantees were discussed inter-connectedly with all other issues but the parties could not agree on a way forward. 

This is not the first time the Greek government has put forth such a proposal.

Kotzias has spoken against military troops and guarantees in a post-solution Cyprus, saying his country did not wish to remain a guarantor power and calling on Turkey and Britain, the other two guarantors based on a 1960 agreement, to give up similar claims.

Greek Cypriots consider Turkish guarantees an anathema to their community, arguing that such an arrangement is anachronistic and unfitting for a modern EU member state.

Turkish Cypriots, on the other hand, argue that Turkey should remain a guarantor power, citing fears to their own security as the smaller community on the island.

Cyprus has been divided by ethnic conflict for over half a century and it was further split in two in July 1974, when Turkey intervened by invading the northern part of the island, several days following a short-lived military coup engineered by Athens.

An attempt to reunify the island under a bicommunal, bizonal, federal system failed in a referendum in April 2004, days before the Republic of Cyprus joined the European Union.

Turkish Cypriots overwhelmingly voted in favour hoping a reunified country would be their ticket to coming out of the shadows of a breakaway regime, recognised only by Turkey. 

But Greek Cypriots voted against the plan, citing fears that Turkey was not to be trusted.

A new UN effort to ascertain whether a new conference could be possible is underway this month. [Kathimerini Cyprus]

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