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‘Forty years of division on this island must come to an end’

European Council President Herman Van Rompuy (c)

By Stefanos Evripidou

EUROPEAN Council President Herman Van Rompuy Tuesday seemed to shy away from committing to upgrading the role of the EU representative at the Cyprus peace talks.

The EU official discussed the Cyprus problem during his meeting with President Nicos Anastasiades.

The timing of the start of talks was not as important as them being conducted in a comprehensive manner, with clear substance and end-goals, Anastasiades reiterated.

The president said a joint declaration should be agreed between the two sides establishing that the basis of a solution will adhere to the relevant UN resolutions, High Level Agreements and transformation of the Republic of Cyprus to a bizonal, bicommunal federal state, with a single international personality, single sovereignty and single citizenship.

“Further, I conveyed that the settlement must embody our capacity as an EU member state and fully enshrine its values and principles,” said Anastasiades who discussed his proposal to enhance the role of the EU in the talks process.

He argued that the EU’s enhanced role would merely supplement and complement the UN Good Offices Mission, “to guarantee not only our effective and efficient participation in the EU through the proper implementation of the acquis communautaire, but also the restoration of fundamental freedoms and human rights of all Cypriots”.

The two agreed to discuss the matter during Anastasiades’ upcoming visit to Brussels in two weeks.

Van Rompuy said the reconciliation and reunification of Cyprus was a matter “very close to my European heart”.

“Conflicts often seem intractable but they can always, always, be overcome through trust, through dialogue. Forty years of division on this island must come to an end,” he said.

The EU official welcomed Anastasiades’ commitment and determination to work for a lasting solution.

“There are encouraging signs, and I hope reunification talks can resume as soon as possible. I strongly encourage both parties not to miss the current opportunity,” he said, adding, “I am engaged and will personally follow this process very closely”.

Asked whether the EU will enhance its involvement in the peace talks, Van Rompuy said the two discussed ways to make the greater involvement of the EU more concrete.

Reunification is a shared goal, he said, adding: “A united Cyprus would obviously fortify its place within the EU. For that a settlement would need to be in line with the principles on which the Union is founded. Both communities are encouraged to make full use of the acquis, to find creative compromises to end the division of Cyprus.”

While committing to personally follow the process very closely, the Council President highlighted that the European Commission has already nominated “a highly qualified interlocutor as personal representative” of its President, Jose Manuel Barroso.

It is believed Anastasiades would like to see him replaced by a representative of the Council.

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