By Stefanos Evripidou
PRESIDENT Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu will meet on Monday in a bid to agree on a joint statement from the two sides paving the way to fully-fledged negotiations.
In a written statement, the government spokesman yesterday said the president had sent a letter to Eroglu asking for the meeting.
In the letter, Anastasiades said the two sides ought to “redouble our efforts toward adopting a joint communiqué for a first landmark meeting of the leaders.”
The president noted that the present juncture is critical for efforts to give a “decisive thrust” aimed at achieving a political settlement to the island’s division.
According to the statement, a possible meeting was first mooted during a phone conversation between the two leaders shortly after Anastasiades’ return from Sri Lanka earlier in the week. Eroglu had called Anastasiades to convey his condolences over the passing of former President Glafcos Clerides. The initiative for the get-together belonged to Anastasiades, the statement noted.
The leaders’ meeting has been set for 6.30pm on Monday at the Chateau Status in the UN-controlled buffer zone.
Government sources also confirmed that attending the informal meeting would likely be the leaders’ respective chief negotiators and/or advisers, in the absence of UN officials.
The Greek Cypriot negotiating team has made agreement on a joint statement – clearly laying out the basis for talks, the process to be followed and the desired outcome – as a precondition before the two leaders can meet.
Negotiations aimed at a settlement have stalled since early 2012.
A statement released late last night from Eroglu’s office called the upcoming meeting “a positive development” for the resumption of Cyprus talks “from where they left off.”
The Turkish Cypriot community had been awaiting the continuation of negotiations for some time, it added.
Meanwhile, in earlier statements yesterday Eroglu said the time has come for a bizonal federal solution in Cyprus with the continuation of Turkey’s guarantees over the island.
Addressing the third world forum of Turkish Cypriots held in occupied Kyrenia, Eroglu accused the Greek Cypriots of wanting to have sovereignty over the whole island without seeing the Turkish Cypriots as their equals.
“They do not want a bizonal federation and the ‘de facto’ and effective presence of Ankara as a guarantor power.”
He said the time had come for a bizonal federal solution on the basis of political equality and sovereignty with a continuation of the Treaty of Guarantee.
On Wednesday, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu called on the Greek Cypriots to start peace talks and take advantage of the “window of opportunity”.
According to Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris yesterday, Davutoglu made the comments after a meeting with his British counterpart William Hague in Turkey.
The Turkish FM said that negotiations in Cyprus should start the soonest possible. “We think that a window of opportunity is open in Cyprus. Let the negotiations start the soonest and let golden 2013 not be wasted,” he said.
“However, the meeting between the leaders has been continuously postponed by the Greek Cypriot side.”
He added that Turkey was ready for any kind of step that would pave the way forward for the process and asked Hague to help speed up the issue.
“It is in no one’s interest to continuously postpone peace,” said Davutoglu.
Hague agreed that a window of opportunity exists for the settlement of the problem in the coming months, noting that a great international effort is being exerted on the issue.
Meanwhile, Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris Postasi quoted diplomatic sources yesterday as saying that the visits of the Greek and Turkish Cypriot negotiators to Ankara and Athens has been delayed until after president Anastasiades and Eroglu meet.