Kotzias sharply criticizes all sides involved in Cyprus talks during speech in Nicosia

Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias criticized harshly the handling of the Cyprus issue by different actors on Tuesday evening during a speech at an event at the “Archbishop Makarios III Foundation” in Nicosia, which marked the anniversaries of the start of the Greek Revolution on March 25, 1821 and the start of Eoka’s struggle against the British on April 1, 1955.

Concerning the international aspect of the Cyprus problem, Kotzias reiterated it is made up of three interrelated problems: the guarantee scheme, the supposed intervention rights of third parties in Cyprus and the presence of foreign troops on the island. He reiterated the position expressed by Greece since 2015 to abolish this scheme, without reservations, as illegal under contemporary international law and all UN resolutions, and focused on the efforts made by several sides not to include the issue in the agenda of the talks.

“This was seen in Geneva,” he said and referred to the hasty departure of Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu from the Swiss capital, saying the Turks left because they did not want or could not discuss this issue.

“It was obvious that (…) they were seeking a pretext to break the negotiations on other issues. They now know very well that they cannot convince anyone in the world that they are entitled to have a military presence and the right to intervention in Cyprus. So they chose a win-win option: to raise new, unrelated issues in order to cover the inability or unwillingness to discuss the main issue, or at best to win the ability to control the island with civilian means, so they could compromise on other issues. So this is how we ended up with the demand for the right of “four freedoms” for the Turks,” he said.

At the same time, he continued, “holders of institutional positions in the occupied territory, such as the pseudo-prime minister, talked about plan ‘B’ and the possibility of Turkey annexing occupied Cyprus. Others in the occupied territory spoke of a ‘Gibraltar model’. It is admirable how the otherwise so sensitive international stakeholders and mediators pretend they didn’t hear any of this.”

Kotzias said he wasn’t surprised by Ankara’s position after Geneva. What did surprise him more, he said, was “the behavior of an international mediator who confessed to not having read the decisions of the organization he’s working for in the two years of his handling of the Cyprus issue. What was this mediator doing? Instead of mediating between the two communities, did he declare himself a mediator between Turkey and the EU? Does he have such an authorization and by whom?”

“If Turkey has a request to make to the EU it should go itself and negotiate, but others have no business believing that, on the occasion of the Cyprus issue, they should help meet Turkey’s requirements on its relations with the EU,” the minister said.

Continuing on his sharp criticism, he said the mediators recently cited a specific point in the 1959-1960 agreements to justify this handling.

“Did they undertake to resolve the Cyprus issue after the violations of previous agreements or did they decide on a better implementation of old agreements and a more pro-Turkish interpretation [of those agreements]? Is this really mediation or is it advocacy, when they undertake to explain to them how to best formulate their demands to the EU? Do they act as lobbyists to serve Turkey?” he asked.

Kotzias closed his remarks saying that the meaning of the Greek struggle in the 19th century and the Cypriots’ struggle for self-determination in the 20th century did not take place to serve third parties. “These struggles were for independence and sovereignty. So that people can live in peace and not under a yoke,” he said.

“Greece today supports every decision taken by Cyprus in the domestic aspect of the negotiations on Cyprus. Greece supports a Cyprus without controls by foreign troops, outdated guarantee systems, without any kind of external guarantee by conquerors, or any rights of intervention of third parties and any violations of international law or use of force in international relations, wherever they derive from,” he said.