Greece and Turkey have agreed to hold separate meetings with the negotiators of the island’s divided communities.
Following a request from the Cyprus government, Greece agreed to meet the Turkish Cypriot negotiator so that the Greek Cypriot negotiator could have direct contact with Ankara, Greek foreign minister Evangelos Venizelos said Tuesday.
The disclosure was made following a lengthy meeting between Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and Venizelos in New York.
In statements after the meeting, Venizelos said they discussed the recent developments in the Cyprus problem, adding that his government was ready to meet the Turkish Cypriot negotiator in the Cyprus talks, which will resume this autumn, provided that the Turkish government met the Greek Cypriot negotiator.
“We can create a new momentum in the Cyprus problem, based on the proposals made by President (Nicos) Anastasiades,” Venizelos told reporters.
Of the decision to meet the communities’ negotiators, Venizelos said: “This is very important; it is a new procedural element, which contributes to creating this momentum.” Speaking to reporters the Greek FM denied reports that he and Davutoglou also discussed convening a four-party conference.
No official statements were made from Ankara.
President Anastasiades rejected suggestions that a Turkish official meeting the Greek Cypriot negotiator would undermine the Republic.
“It would have undermined it if the President of the Republic was the negotiator,” Anastasiades told reporters in New York following a meeting with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
Turkey’s involvement, Anastasiades said, as the force that controlled the north part of Cyprus, would be beneficial to the talks.
Turkey could not remain outside the dialogue, he said.
“It is involved and it should actively contribute towards the solution of the Cyprus problem,” he said.
Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu on Tuesday welcomed news of the agreement between Greece and Turkey, saying that he believed this would lead to a four-party conference between the two sides on the island and Greece and Turkey.
According to Turkish Cypriot press reports, Eroglu called on Anastasiades to begin peace talks as soon as possible at the level of community leaders. He also called on the president to hold a tripartite meeting with him and the UNSG Ban in New York.
Eroglu is currently in New York where he said he is due to hold a meeting with Ban.
Earlier Tuesday, Anastasiades held a 20-minute meeting with the UNSG whom he informed of the need to adequately prepare the ground before talks could start “to create valid hopes for a solution.”
“Among others, I informed the Secretary-General of my strong conviction that the active participation of the European Union would not only benefit the procedure but would significantly reinforce the efforts to achieve a right solution,” Anastasiades said.
Later in the day, he met Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov where he discussed the Cyprus problem, economic issues and bilateral relations.
Speaking after the meeting, Anastasiades said if all goes well in terms of preparation work, he will go on an official visit to Moscow in the first half of 2014 on the invite of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
On Monday, the president and first lady attended an evening reception hosted by US President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama in honour of the heads of state and government attending the 68th session of the UN General Assembly.
According to a released statement, Obama thanked Anastasiades for Cyprus’ role and contribution towards peace and stability in the region of the Middle East and Eastern Mediterranean.
He also expressed appreciation of Anastasiades’ efforts towards the restart of peace talks.
On the sidelines of the reception, the Cypriot president held a 20-minute meeting with US Secretary of State John Kerry, who told Anastasiades of his wish to visit Cyprus.
Earlier on Monday, the president hosted a working lunch with the five permanent members of the UN Security Council where he discussed three main issues: the need for adequate preparations before talks start; a more active EU involvement in the talks; and, the return of the fenced off part of Famagusta.
Also on Monday, Anastasiades addressed the Council of Foreign Relations, and met with members of the New York Times editorial team.
Meanwhile foreign minister Ioannis Kasoulides met Deputy UN Secretary-General Jan Eliasson at the UN headquarters on Monday, to elaborate on what “good preparation” means for the Greek Cypriot negotiating team.
According to CNA sources, Kasoulides told Eliasson that both negotiators need to negotiate a text declaration and agree on a methodology for the new round of talks to achieve a holistic approach rather than endless discussions on governance issues.
Kasoulides also met US Deputy Assistant Secretary for Energy Diplomacy Amos Hochstein at the request of the latter.