By Jean Christou
GREEK Cypriot negotiator Andreas Mavroyiannis was angered on Tuesday by comments his Turkish Cypriot counterpart Kudret Ozersay made following their first meeting in two weeks.
The negotiators have until now remained relatively low profile about their meetings, in which they do most of the groundwork on the talks.
But Mavroyiannis went as far as to issue a written statement criticising Ozersay for failing to avoid public disclosure of what was happening at the negotiating table.
“I regret to notice that despite the commitment, even during the last meeting between the two leaders, to avoid public disclosure… the Turkish Cypriot negotiator Mr Ozersay… not only did he deviate from this commitment, but also spoke of an alleged intention on our part to renegotiate the United Nations Document on Convergences,” said Mavroyiannis. The UN document lists the convergences reached between the two sides during previous negotiations.
Ozersay told Turkish Cypriot media after the meeting that he was concerned because the Greek Cypriot side was attempting to renegotiate those convergences on certain aspects related to the economy and the EU.
He said that from the beginning of the current round of talks, which began on February 11, the Turkish Cypriot side had stated the process should pick up where it left off with the previous leaders.
“Unfortunately, despite the fact that Mr Anastasiades told us that the talks will continue from where they stopped, the Greek Cypriot negotiating team wanted to revisit some issues listed in the document of convergence,” said Ozersay.
“This causes us concern. Why talk about issues on which we have agreed earlier? We are taking steps backward on convergences that have been recorded in documents.”
Ozersay said this would delay the current process. Asked whether it would cause a deadlock, he said it would be preferable not to identify a negative development as a deadlock but he said it would draw attention.
But Mavroyiannis said the UN document on convergences was not on the negotiating table, “as also quite clearly stated by Mr Downer during his recent visit here”, he added referring to the former UN Special Adviser.
“Hence, negotiating or renegotiating the document is out of the question. We are at the initial stage, with proposals being submitted, respective positions being presented and the distance between us being assessed, therefore an attempt to create false impressions is completely inappropriate. This helps neither the negotiation process nor any of the parties, and leads to a blame game logic, in which we do not wish to engage. The negotiation process requires serious engagement, keeping of commitments and confidentiality,” said Mavroyiannis.
Last week, Greek Cypriot sources told the Cyprus Mail that the Turkish Cypriot side’s negotiating team had “completely unraveled positions” built by former leaders Mehmet Ali Talat and Demetris Christofias, creating a “huge distance” between the positions of the two sides.
President Anastasiades has from the beginning refused to bind himself to the ‘convergences document’, and according to the sources the Turkish side was taking advantage of this noncommittal approach by distancing themselves from a number of positions they never much liked anyway. The next meeting of the negotiators is on Friday. They will also meet next Tuesday.