Akıncı: “A solution to the Cyprus problem is possible within months”

All parties to the Cyprus conflict should come together for a “line dance” to capitalize on the momentum toward a permanent solution, President Mustafa Akıncı said yesterday.

Akıncı met with the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon in New York on Thursday for the first time since his election in April.

Speaking to reporters following the meeting, Akıncı said there is a positive atmosphere on the island, where peace talks between Turkish Cypriots in the north and Greek Cypriots in the south restarted last month.

“I’m very much convinced that with this mood and with the commitment of my people for a lasting and viable solution we will be achieving a mutually acceptable solution within months rather than years,” he said.

Akıncı said a typical metaphor used on the island in the past when one side placed blame on the other was to call it a “tango” – a style of dance that requires a partner.

“Whenever one side or the other, depending on the circumstances, wanted to put all the blame to the other side, that side used the metaphor of tango: ‘You need two to solve the Cyprus problem, you need two to tango.’ … But what I’m saying nowadays is something completely different. I’m saying that we need a line dance. In Turkish, it is halay; in Greek, it is sirtaki”, he said.

The involvement of civil society, as well as of international actors such as UN, EU and guarantor powers, are needed although Turkish and Greek Cypriot communities will always remain the protagonists of the issue, he said.

Regarding the potential effects of the results of upcoming Sunday’s general election in Turkey, Akıncı said he believed the new government would be committed to the negotiation process and make a positive contribution.

“What is needed actually is to see that Greece also recovers from what they are facing nowadays as soon as possible so that it can also put its positive input to the process like Turkey”, he said referring to the Greek economic crisis.

Meanwhile, the UN chief welcomed “the positive atmosphere” surrounding the Cyprus talks and encouraged leaders from both sides to continue, according to the following statement issued from his spokesperson’s office:

“The Secretary-General welcomed the positive atmosphere surrounding the Cyprus talks, commending the commitment of the Turkish Cypriot leader, Mr. Akinci, and the Greek Cypriot leader, Mr. Anastasiades, to reach a comprehensive settlement to the Cyprus issue.
He encouraged the leaders to stay on this path and assured Mr. Akinci of his personal commitment and that of his Special Adviser Espen Barth Eide to continue facilitating the efforts of the two leaders in the talks.
The Secretary-General also welcomed the leaders’ agreement to work on a number of confidence building measures that would benefit both communities. He noted that the measures could help to increase and sustain the positive environment on the island. The Secretary-General also welcomed the decision by the leaders to establish a committee on gender equality in the framework of the talks.”