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President Tatar calls for a 'Cyprus reality-check' to usher in 'a new era of co-operation and mutual respect' between Turkish and Greek Cypriots

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Ersin Tatar, the president of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, has urged the international community to acknowledge the existence of two states in Cyprus to help resolve the decades-old dispute between Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots. “We are going to Geneva with a new vision for Cyprus, one based on the realities on the island. There are two peoples with distinct national identities, running their own affairs separately since 1964. Today, they have their own institutions, national assemblies and laws, but sadly there is very little interaction between the two sides. We want to change that and usher in a new era of co-operation and mutual respect, but we need the help of the international community to achieve this,” said President Tatar.

The president was speaking ahead of his trip to Geneva this week for informal talks with the Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades and the foreign ministers of the island’s three Guarantor Powers, Turkey, Britain and Greece. The meeting is being held on the invitation of the United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres. Cyprus has been ethnically divided following the outbreak of the conflict in December 1963, when the numerically larger Greek Cypriot partner forcefully seized control of the three-year-old bi-communal partnership Republic of Cyprus. Forced out of government for refusing to forgo their political equality, Turkish Cypriots quickly formed their own administration, which was declared as the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) in 1983. CONT.

There have been eleven major plans and initiatives to settle the Cyprus issue since 1964. Eight of these have been based on the ‘bi-zonal, bi-communal’ federal settlement model that was first adopted by the UN in 1977. Turkish Cypriots have accepted every single proposal, while Greek Cypriots have rejected all of them, including the 2004 Annan Plan, which was put to a simultaneous referendum. The Greek Cypriot side also blocked progress at the 2017 Crans Montana Summit, which was named by all parties as “the final attempt” to resolve the issue through the bi-communal, bi-zonal federalism formula. President Tatar was elected on a two-state mandate in October 2020 and wants to redefine the UN parameters to increase the chances of a sustainable settlement deal.

“We’ve had decades of failed federation talks. This is adequate proof that federalism is not an appropriate settlement model for Cyprus. Federalism needs interdependence, mutual trust and most of all strong mutual interests for its establishment and sustenance. These do not exist in Cyprus. “If Greek Cypriots don’t want to share power with us, that’s OK. We can continue to function and stimulate co-operation as two separate States. What is not OK is for Turkish Cypriots to endure ongoing isolation and discrimination. That must stop!” the TRNC President said.

“European nations, Germany among them, took just six years to put the horrors of the Second World War behind them and focus on forging a common future. Yet more than fifty years on from 1963, we have yet to establish good neighbourly relations between the two sides,” said President Tatar. “Even before the pandemic, trade levels and the movement of people across the Green Line was woefully low. We need to change that, to encourage more commercial, cultural and political ties, which can only happen if there is mutual respect and equality,” he continued.

“It’s time for a Cyprus reality-check. Our two States is the legacy of the Cyprus conflict, and suffering and the polarisation of the two peoples will continue as long as the status quo remains. For the sake of future generations and for regional peace and stability, we need to end this dispute, and start normalising relations between the two States of the island. “Turkish Cypriots exist, we have our own State and we have rights. It’s vital the international community acknowledges this and helps us to expand the UN parameters, which in turn will pave the way for a fair and sustainable permanent settlement,” Tatar concluded.

Cyprus

Cyprus's last chance to solve the Cyprus issue is threatened by its corrupt political elite

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How can the people of Cyprus, writes Michalis Christou, hope for a lasting solution to the Cyprus problem, when they have seen the true face of corruption in their president, Nicos Anastasiades (pictured)? 

Last week, in Geneva, the leaders of the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities met once again in order to re-start negotiations for the Cyprus problem. Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and seized the northern part under the excuse of protecting Turkish Cypriots, after the Greek Cypriots tried to attain union with Greece through a coup. Right now, only the south is officially recognised by the EU, and UN troops supervise the buffer zone that separates the two parts of Cyprus. 

The Geneva talks, however, led by UN SG Antonio Guterres, ended with another failure. The two sides did not manage to find common ground, as TC leader Ersin Tatar submitted a proposed solution within a two-state framework, while GC leader Nicos Anastasiades insisted on the BBF framework agreed upon by the international community and every previous RoC president.

Yet there was some hypocrisy in Anastasiades’ advocating so fervently for a BBF. According to bombshell revelations from a few months ago, which came from the mouth of the Greek Orthodox Archbishop of the Greek Orthodox Church himself,  Mr. Anastasiades was the first who spoke about a two-states/partition solution.

Anastasiades was the one who last year closed the checkpoints, long before closing airports and ports, under the pretext of COVID. Moreover, Anastasiades' Internal Minister, Nicos Nouris, a hardliner when it comes to migration, is the one who very recently placed barbed wire on the buffer zone under the pretext of irregular immigration, at a time when immigration flows have been  significantly reduced compared to other years.

The message of division/partition sent by Anastasiades to the Turkish Cypriot side is now obvious. But partition goes against the will of the Greek Cypriots whose vast majority (76%) wants a federal solution. 

President Anastasiades and the 'golden' passport scheme 

Anastasiades has been embroiled in corruption allegations pertaining to the golden passport scheme adopted by Cyprus as one of many measures to recover from the financial crisis of 2013.

The official Findings 

After Al Jazeera’s  revelation of Cyprus’ corruption regarding the passport scheme, where the president of the Cyprus Parliament himself was videographed promising an agent of a client with a criminal record that he will support him in buying a Cypriot passport, the Cypriot government decided to appoint an investigative committee to examine the lawfulness of the process of the citizenship-by-investment programme. 

What did the Interim Report show

"The President of the Republic [of Cyprus] participated in the sessions of the Council of Ministers, in which about 50 naturalizations of investors were approved, promoted by the law firm in which 50% belong to his first-degree relatives ... In our opinion, the fact that the President of the Republic does not have the right to vote, does not release him from the obligation to act with absolute impartiality and to appear to be acting in this way." – p.499

"Both President Anastasiadis and other former and current members of the Council of Ministers who were associated with intermediaries “did not declare any direct or indirect interest in the exceptional naturalizations nor did they exclude themselves, as they should have.”" p.501

‘The most shocking reference to the finding concerns a letter in which it is revealed that President Anastasiades himself intervened in order to grant ten "golden" passports to clients of a specific law firm! Specifically, the director of the Office of the President seems to have sent a letter from the President to an official of the Ministry of Interior stating that "Mr. President asked me to send you the names of the persons who applied for naturalization to hand them over to him." p.161

Anastasiades’ Pledge

In a letter to Nikolas Papadopoulos , the current president of the third most popular political party on the island, DIKO, and the son of Tasos Papadopoulos who infamously urged the GC people to say No to the UN-backed Anan plan in 2004, Mr. Anastasiades stated that: " I repeat, for the last time, that I am ready undertake my responsibilities, resigning from the position that my people have trusted me in, if it is ascertained that I am involved in any instance of corruption or illegal act or have shown tolerance for any action that has damaged or is damaging the state budget." [on 21/12/2020 and referring to the passport scheme].

On 27/10/2019, in an interview, Anastasiades stated that if something wrong is found [for him in the passport scheme], the next day he will submit his resignation. He said, "Let’s look at the citizenship application by my former law firm. If there is any instance, and I repeat, and I would like to underline, which would show that either my former law firm or myself for any purpose, have given any illicit favours to anyone, I will resign the next day."

Mr. Anastasiades has stated several times that if ANYTHING untoward is found by the Special Counsel investigating the scheme,  then he will resign from his position as the president of the Republic of Cyprus. Let us look at the interim conclusion of the research committee’s investigation on passports.

Anastasiades: A man of his word (?)

And as Anastasiades has, again, stated in an interview on 02/06/2019, "Let the audit committee investigate;… if any involvement is found, then I should leave [resign]." 

The issue is crystal clear: Anastasiades said that if he was involved, then he would resign. The report shows that Anastasiades was involved. Anastasiades should keep his word and resign immediately. 

The resignation of political leaders due to corruption is not without precedent. We already saw the resignation of Estonia’s Prime Minister, Juri Rata, due to corruption. 

Corruption and the will of the people

The Cyprus issue is a problem of nationalisms on both sides, Turkish occupation but also corruption. 

Corruption is also evident from the evidence that recently saw the light of day through the book of, journalist and former advisor to the president, Makarios Drousiotis 'The Gang: The corrupt system of power in Cyprus - The haircut and the entanglement of politicians and lawyers', which blatantly accuses Anastasiades of corruption. 

Anastasiades does not represent the people’s will anymore. 77% of people do not trust Anastasiades’s government and an overwhelming 71% states that they are dissatisfied with how Anastasiades handles the Cyprus issue.

After Geneva, the president of Cyprus called for national unity at this difficult time for the Cyprus issue. Well, the time has come for this national unity to be expressed. The ¾ of the population who does not trust Mr. Anastasiadis express this unity. As the above detailed data and reports that I attach show, this is a reality and not a derivative of a specific ideological quality.

If Anastasiades has any dignity left, he will stay true to his word and do what he has promised us: Anastasiades, it’s time to resign.

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Ahead of Geneva talks, Cypriots march for peace

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Greek Cypriots march peacefully during a reunification rally along the medieval walls circling the divided capital Nicosia, Cyprus April 24, 2021. REUTERS/Yiannis Kourtoglou
Greek Cypriots march peacefully during a reunification rally along the medieval walls circling the divided capital Nicosia, Cyprus April 24, 2021. REUTERS/Yiannis Kourtoglou
Greek Cypriots march peacefully during a reunification rally along the medieval walls circling the divided capital Nicosia, Cyprus April 24, 2021. REUTERS/Yiannis Kourtoglou

Thousands of Cypriots from both sides of a dividing line splitting their island marched for peace on Saturday, ahead of informal talks in Geneva next week on the future of negotiations.

With some holding olive branches, people walked in the bright spring sunshine around the medieval walls circling the capital, Nicosia.

The routes stopped at semi-circles on either side, at barbed wire thrown up decades ago when conflict split Cyprus's Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities.

"Cyprus belongs to its people," demonstrators chanted, holding placards in Greek and Turkish.

Activists also called for the opening of checkpoints between the two sides, which have effectively been sealed for little over a year because of the COVID-19 pandemic in a disruption to the lives of thousands used to more regular interaction between the two communities after restrictions were eased in 2003.

"The world is going though extraordinary times and sometimes people have been using this excuse to justify the closure of crossings, and on such a small island with no land borders with anywhere else," said Kemal Baykalli, a member of the grassroots platform Unite Cyprus Now, one of many organisations that participated in Saturday's event.

"What could have been done is open the crossing points for the benefit and welfare of all Cypriots and jointly coordinate the situation, but they didn't do this," he told Reuters.

The United Nations has called for informal talks of parties in the Cyprus dispute in Geneva on April 27-29, in an attempt to look for a way forward in resuming peace talks that collapsed in mid-2017.

Prospects for progress appear slim, with each side sticking to their respective positions. Greek Cypriots say Cyprus should be reunited under a federal umbrella, citing relevant United Nations resolutions. The newly-elected Turkish Cypriot leader has called for a two-state resolution.

Cyprus was split in a Turkish invasion in 1974 triggered by a brief Greek-inspired coup, though the seeds of separation were sown earlier, when a power-sharing administration crumbled in violence in 1963, just three years after independence from Britain.

Discussions in Geneva will also be attended by representatives of Greece, Turkey and Britain, guarantor powers of Cyprus under a convoluted system that granted the island independence.

The Turkish Cypriot activists who demonstrated on Saturday were in favour of a federation.

"We need to fix it," said Baykalli. "We can have a common future and the only way to do this is through a federal arrangement. Its very clear that a two-state solution is not possible."

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Cyprus Tech Association: Cyprus-based international ICT companies join forces

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As part of its efforts to promote Cyprus as an ideal location for international ICT companies, and provide support to existing and potential foreign investors, Invest Cyprus today welcomes the foundation of the Cyprus Tech Association.The Cyprus Tech Association provides a strong platform for all international ICT companies established in Cyprus to promote new opportunities and partnerships.

It also constitutes a formal representation of its members to all forums and offers direction on key strategic issues, including the economic importance of the sector and policy advocacy. In addition, the Cyprus Tech Association acts as a bridge of communication with world-class technology centers, empowering the country's efforts to become an attractive investment destination for foreign investors and a competitive business center.

The Board of Directors of the Cyprus Tech Association consists of representatives from major international ICT companies operating in Cyprus, including as Kyriakos Kyriakou, General Manager Cyprus and Director Government Central and East Europe of NCR Corporation, Giannis Tinis, Head of amdocs Cyprus, Valentinos Polykarpou, General Manager and Global HR Operations and Services of Wargaming, Avi Sela, CEO of eToro Cyprus, Peter Valov, Founder and CEO of Exness, Nick Galea, founder and CEO of 3CX and Pavlos Christoforou, CEO and Chief Technology Officer of Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MUFG) Investor Services Fintech Limited.

Kyriakos Kyriakou, chairman of the Board of Directors, expressed his appreciation to Invest Cyprus for this initiative. “It is a great honour for every professional to be part of such a significant Association,” Kyriakou said. “Taking this opportunity, I would like to thank the Vice-Chairman and the rest of the Board Members for accepting the invitation to join our Board. I'm certain everyone joining this Association will contribute with excitement and eagerness to support our newly established initiative's goals. Our vision is to make Cyprus an ideal destination for International ICT companies. I feel confident that we can achieve it.”

The Vice President of the Board, Yiannis Tinis, added: “It is an honour to be elected to the position of Vice-Chairman of the newly established Cyprus Tech Association. I am confident the Association will put all efforts necessary to increase the number of international businesses choosing Cyprus, attract direct investments in the country and support the already established enterprises; I very much look forward to the success of the Association.”

Avi Sela, CEO of eToro said: “I am honoured to be part of the Board of the Cyprus Tech Association. I believe that this initiative will add great value to the Cyprus economy. As a representative of a major fintech from Israel that chose to expand its European operations in Cyprus, I acknowledge a great potential in the ICT sector. The establishment of the Cyprus Tech Association will allow us to promote and discuss potential challenges and support companies looking to relocate to Cyprus, encouraging the development of the ecosystem in the country. I do look forward to collaborating with all the parties involved to promote this important initiative.”

The Head of ICT Headquartering Unit at Invest Cyprus and Board Secretary of the Cyprus Tech Association, Marios Tanousis, said: "The establishment of international ICT companies on the island is a top strategic priority for Invest Cyprus. We stand ready to support the existing investors to overcome challenges and successfully scale up operations and at the same time assist new companies relocate to Cyprus.”  

George Campanellas, Chief Executive of Invest Cyprus, which encouraged the foundation of the new organization, said: “Cyprus offers enormous potential to ICT companies of all sizes to help them flourish and grow, and the creation of the new association is an exciting new development that will allow all companies to come together under one umbrella to shape the future of the sector in Cyprus.”

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