Cyprus talks begin following a joint declaration by two leaders

The two Cypriot leaders reached an agreement over the wording of a joint statement on Tuesday, paving the way for the start of a new round of peace talks to unite the island. The TRNC’s President Derviş Eroğlu met with his Greek Cypriot counterpart Nicos Anastasiades “in a friendly and cordial atmosphere” in the UN’s offices in the buffer zone in Nicosia, Cyprus, before releasing their anticipated joint declaration, given in full below.

Last week, Assoc. Prof. Kudret Özersay returned to the Turkish Cypriot negotiating team, replacing Osman Ertuğ as the chief negotiator. Widely respected and seen as a progressive, Özersay has over ten years of experience in the bi-communal talks, serving all three TRNC Presidents – Rauf Denktaş, Mehmet Ali Talat and Derviş Eroğlu – before resigning in June 2012 to head up new civil society group Toparlanıyoruz.

Özersay will have his first meeting with the Greek Cypriot negotiator Andreas Mavroyiannis later this week. Although details have yet to be announced, Özersay is also expected to travel to Greece for official meetings, while Mavroyiannis will head to Turkey in the coming weeks.

Alexander Downer
Alexander Downer

In another further important development, Alexander Downer (left), the UN Secretary General’s Special Adviser toCyprus, is stepping down after five and a half years in his post. UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon thanked Downer for the “indispensable role” he has played in bringing the two sides closer since his appointment in 2008. Ban also said “the United Nations will continue to support the Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots in their efforts to reunify the island and move on from decades of separation.”

Main photo: TAK, Nov 2013 

Joint Declaration, 11/02/2014

The two leaders had their first meeting today under the auspices of the UN Secretary General’s Good Offices mission. The meeting was held in a friendly and cordial atmosphere and the two leaders have agreed to the following:

  1. The status quo is unacceptable and its prolongation will have negative consequences for the Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots. The leaders affirmed that a settlement would have a positive impact on the entire region, while first and foremost benefiting Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots, respecting democratic principles, human rights and fundamental freedoms, as well as each other’s distinct identity and integrity and ensuring their common future in a unitedCyprus within the European Union.
  1. The leaders expressed their determination to resume structured negotiations in a results-oriented manner. All unresolved core issues will be on the table, and will be discussed interdependently. The leaders will aim to reach a settlement as soon as possible, and hold separate simultaneous referenda thereafter.
  1. The settlement will be based on a bi-communal, bi-zonal federation with political equality, as set out in the relevant Security Council Resolutions and the High Level Agreements. The unitedCyprus, as a member of the United Nations and of the European Union, shall have a single international legal personality and a single sovereignty, which is defined as the sovereignty which is enjoyed by all member States of the United Nations under the UN Charter and which emanates equally from Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots. There will be a single unitedCyprus citizenship, regulated by federal law. All citizens of the united Cyprus shall also be citizens of either the Greek-Cypriot constituent state or the Turkish-Cypriot constituent state. This status shall be internal and shall complement, and not substitute in any way, the unitedCyprus citizenship.

    The powers of the federal government, and like matters that are clearly incidental to its specified powers, will be assigned by the constitution. The Federal constitution will also provide for the residual powers to be exercised by the constituent states. The constituent states will exercise fully and irrevocably all their powers, free from encroachment by the federal government. The federal laws will not encroach upon constituent state laws, within the constituent states’ area of competences, and the constituent states’ laws will not encroach upon the federal laws within the federal government’s competences. Any dispute in respect thereof will be adjudicated finally by the Federal Supreme Court. Neither side may claim authority or jurisdiction over the other.

  1. The united Cyprus federation shall result from the settlement following the settlement’s approval by separate simultaneous referenda. The Federal constitution shall prescribe that the united Cyprus federation shall be composed of two constituent states of equal status. The bi-zonal, bi-communal nature of the federation and the principles upon which the EU is founded will be safeguarded and respected throughout the island. The Federal constitution shall be the supreme law of the land and will be binding on all the federation’s authorities and on the constituent states. Union in whole or in part with any other country or any form of partition or secession or any other unilateral change to the state of affairs will be prohibited.
  1. The negotiations are based on the principle that nothing is agreed until everything is agreed.
  1. The appointed representatives are fully empowered to discuss any issue at any time and should enjoy parallel access to all stakeholders and interested parties in the process, as needed. The leaders of the two communities will meet as often as needed. They retain the ultimate decision making power. Only an agreement freely reached by the leaders may be put to separate simultaneous referenda. Any kind of arbitration is excluded.
  1. The sides will seek to create a positive atmosphere to ensure the talks succeed. They commit to avoiding blame games or other negative public comments on the negotiations. They also commit to efforts to implement confidence building measures that will provide a dynamic impetus to the prospect for a united Cyprus.