Cyprus Mail
CyprusCyprus Talks

Turkey sees ‘window of opportunity’ on Cyprus

Davutoglu says leaders meeting set for November 4 but UN denies

By Stefanos Evripidou 

TURKEY sees a “window of opportunity” to end the decades-old division of Cyprus and expects peace talks between Greek and Turkish Cypriots to resume in November after a lull of almost 18 months, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said yesterday.

“There hasn’t been any progress in the negotiations for the past nine years. Now we think there is a window of opportunity,” Davutoglu told a news conference in Ankara, flanked by Turkish Cypriot ‘foreign minister’ Ozdil Nami.

According to Reuters, he said Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot leaders were due to meet in November on the island and that their respective negotiators would then visit Athens and Ankara.

“This meeting will be an important psychological step,” he said, adding it could pave the way for four-party talks involving Turkey and Greece.

Nami said the eventual target was to hold a referendum on a proposed deal by March 2014.

Greek Cypriot officials have played down the prospects of any imminent breakthrough, highlighting a broad range of potential obstacles from territorial adjustments to a complex web of property claims.

However, according to Turkish daily Sabah online, Davutoglu announced during the press conference that the two leaders would meet on November 4, adding that he will visit the breakaway regime before then.

This prompted UN spokesman Michel Bonnardeaux to deny the report, telling the Cyprus News Agency that no meeting between the two leaders has been scheduled yet.

According to Cyprus Mail sources, UN Special Adviser Alexander Downer suggested November 4 as a possible date for the two leaders to meet, provided an agreement is reached in the meantime on a joint statement and the two leaders are available.

The two negotiators Andreas Mavroyiannis and Osman Ertug have yet to reach agreement on the text of the joint statement.

November 4 was mentioned as a possible date as Downer will return to the island that week.

The Greek Cypriot negotiating team unofficially set the joint statement as a precondition to the start of talks, arguing it was needed to clarify the substance of the talks and the process to be followed. They want to introduce a “holistic” approach to the talks where all issues are dealt with concurrently, given the fact that many aspects of the peace talks are interlinked.

Agreement on a joint declaration would also ensure that the two sides do not engage in talks “for the sake of talks” but that the first official meeting of the two leaders would be “meaningful”.

Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu has said he is more interested in seeing the resumption of talks, than agreeing on a joint declaration, arguing that the aim remains a solution of the Cyprus problem.

 

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