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Negotiators to head to Ankara and Athens

Greek Cypriot negotiator Andreas Mavroyiannis

By Stefanos Evripidou 

THE TWO negotiators in the peace talks have agreed to visit the capitals of Greece and Turkey for talks by the end of this month, Turkish Cypriot negotiator Osman Ertug said.

Ertug was quoted in Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris saying that he agreed with Greek Cypriot negotiator Andreas Mavroyiannis on Monday to organise separate visits to Ankara and Athens before the end of the month.

Mavroyiannis and Ertug will meet with the undersecretaries of the Turkish and Greek foreign ministries respectively.

“We have nothing to lose. We all have to gain from an agreement. We can break the ice and enter a new era,” he said.

Regarding negotiations to reach agreement on a joint declaration which would pave the way for a meeting of the two leaders, Ertug accused the Greek Cypriots of “dragging their feet”.

Ertug said he has submitted a proposal for the text of the joint declaration to the UN, remaining within the parameters set by the UN and in line with the international body’s bridging proposals tabled to bridge the gap between the two sides.

Ertug accused the Greek Cypriots of following a “maximalist” stance on the joint declaration, and of wanting to conclude issues of substance that have been hanging over the Cyprus problem for 40-50 years before the talks have even started.

Negotiations have hit a snag on the issue of sovereignty with the Greek Cypriots keen on seeing the federal state born through the transformation of the Cyprus Republic.

“In other words, the state in the north is completely ignored and we will end up in the EU with a new constitution and the transformation as they want it,” said Ertug.

For their part, the Turkish Cypriots want the terms “residual powers” included in the text, supporting the view that a new “partnership” will be formed in a new federal state.

Another issue is the question of citizenship, said the Turkish Cypriot negotiator.

He said matters of substance need to be discussed at the negotiating table, not during the preparation of a joint declaration.

If no agreement can be reached on a joint declaration, the talks should go ahead anyway, he said.

“We are ready to start the talks without preconditions.”

Meanwhile, Turkish Cypriot ‘foreign minister’ Ozdil Nami will meet with EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Füle in Strasbourg today to discuss the Green Line Regulation, financial aid and the “isolation” imposed on the Turkish Cypriots.

Asked whether the Turkish Cypriots would support the EU taking a more active role in the talks, Nami said no.

“The EU is already a party to the Cyprus issue and if it sits at the negotiation table, it is obvious whom it will support.”

‘If Turkey meets its obligations Cyprus will respond’

THE European Union will launch a new round of accession talks with Turkey next month following a three-year hiatus after Germany dropped opposition prompted by Ankara’s crackdown on street protests.

Turkey began negotiations to join the EU in 2005, 18 years after applying, but a series of political obstacles, notably over Cyprus and resistance to Turkish membership in Germany and France, have slowed progress.

The new “chapter” of negotiations with the 28-member bloc will open on November 5 and the process should be accelerated to help Ankara implement democratic reforms, EU enlargement commissioner Stefan Fule said.

“Recent developments in Turkey underline the importance of EU engagement and of the EU remaining the benchmark for reform in Turkey,” he said.

Many EU capitals want to take the long-awaited step on Turkey’s path towards the EU, arguing Europe should capitalise on Ankara’s rapid growth and rising influence in the Middle East. Others are nervous about an expansion that would see the bloc bordering countries including Syria, Iraq and Iran.

In a written statement, Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides said yesterday that the EU General Affairs Council, which took place in Luxembourg, decided to proceed with the opening Chapter 22 of Turkey’s EU accession course, relating to regional policy and the coordination of structural instruments.

The decision comes following European Council discussions on the matter last June.

The Cypriot FM pointed out that chapter 22 is not included among the eight negotiating chapters frozen by the EU Council in a unanimous decision in 2006 following Turkey’s refusal to open its ports and airports to Cyprus Republic vessels and aircraft.

Nor is it included, in “the six negotiation chapters that Cyprus unilaterally froze in 2009, in response to Turkey’s insistence on maintaining the same stance”.

As a result, Kasoulides explained that “Cyprus gave its consent to the opening of the particular negotiation chapter on the basis of its own criteria”, adding, “If Turkey meets its obligations, then Cyprus will respond accordingly”.

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