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Cyprus Cyprus Talks

Peace talks in ‘very tragic situation’

By Stefanos Evripidou

THE PEACE talks are currently in a “very tragic situation”, with the Turkish Cypriots eyeing a “divorce” post-settlement, Greek Cypriot negotiator Andreas Mavroyiannis said,  following the unsuccessful effort of President Nicos Anastasiades to overcome the deadlock on Monday night.

Speaking to CyBC radio, Mavroyiannis said during the two leaders’ informal meeting on Monday night in the buffer zone, Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu spoke clearly of two sovereign states.

Despite the president’s many efforts, Eroglu wouldn’t budge from his “hard line positions”, Mavroyiannis said.

“He insists that we have two sovereign states that will decide one day to join together and share in common a small number of powers, and they will maintain their sovereignty, citizens and all characteristics of a sovereign state.”

It’s a “very tragic situation”, said Mavroyiannis.

While the meeting itself, which lasted over two and a half hours, was held in a “very good, friendly atmosphere”, Eroglu would not move an inch from his “extreme position”.

“The president showed all the good will, calmness and patience, in an effort to present matters with a view to prospects for the future,” he said, adding, “instead of trying to discuss terms of reunification, we cannot, at this stage, be discussing the terms of a future divorce, because behind this extreme position, is the idea that one day, each will go their own way.”

The Greek Cypriots cannot resume fully-fledged negotiations without first clarifying the basis of the talks, as specified in UN resolutions, and the methodology in a joint declaration, Mavroyiannis said.

The Greek Cypriot negotiator accused the Turkish Cypriots of taking a hard line position in all their statements.

Possibly giving credence to Mavroyiannis’ assessment is the fact that Eroglu came to Monday’s meeting with an announcement that he read out on the steps of Chateau Status on its conclusion.

Previous leaders have issued joint statements
Previous leaders have issued joint statements

 In the announcement, likely drawn up before even talking to Anastasiades, Eroglu effectively accused the Greek Cypriots of holding the talks prisoner to the need for a joint declaration.

“It’s not a question of terminology, but of a completely different approach. And they say, let’s start the talks and see what happens on the way. We insist these issues have to be cleared up now,” Mavroyiannis said.

“The gap between us was made abundantly clear. We have a serious problem before us. We never underestimated its size. We will continue our efforts. But without movement on these extreme positions, we cannot see how to start with a meeting of the leaders and fully-fledged negotiations.”

Mavroyiannis confirmed that Eroglu handed over two draft proposals near the end of Monday’s meet. The one suggested skipping the joint declaration and entering into direct talks on the governance and power-sharing chapter; a proposal non-digestible to the Greek Cypriots who on the one hand, won’t proceed without a joint declaration, and on the other, do not wish to engage in peace talks chapter by chapter but by crossing through chapters.

The second proposal repeated “extreme” positions on the joint declaration.

Mavroyiannis on Tuesday briefed the ambassadors of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council on the informal meeting, while UN Special Adviser Alexander Downer was updated on Monday night.

The Cyprus News Agency quoted a Greek Cypriot source on Tuesday saying the Turkish Cypriots approach the peace talks with a plan B already in mind.

This proves “we cannot build frail structures. Things have to be clear. We are ready in the framework of the process to provide the other side with safeguards which we consider self-evident, in order to meet their questions and insecurities. But we will not negotiate on issues pertaining to a clear basis (for the talks),” he said.

According to the Turkish Cypriot press, Eroglu acknowledged that agreement could not be reached on starting talks, adding that patience is needed in such cases.

Eroglu said the world needed to know the “realities” in Cyprus and called on the Turkish Cypriot youth to work to preserve the breakaway regime.

AKEL spokesman Giorgos Loucaides on Tuesday expressed “deep concern” at the way matters are developing. He criticised the government for doing away with the two joint statements of the previous leaders, Mehmet Ali Talat and Demetris Christofias.

Ruling DISY said the meeting showed how critical it was to clarify from the start the basis and aim of the talks. If talks start without a common understanding on the basic foundations of a federal state, they will be “doomed to failure”.

DISY slammed Eroglu’s pursuit of “two partnership states”, saying he did not seek a common future but was thinking ahead to a future “divorce”.

Leader of coalition partner DIKO Marios Garoyian said the Turkish side’s intransigent positions and the “Pontius Pilate” approach of the UN Secretariat have led matters to a dangerous impasse.

House President and EDEK leader Yiannakis Omirou argued entering into negotiations on Eroglu’s terms would be tantamount to “national lunacy”.

Greens spokeswoman Eleni Chrysostomou called for the national council to prepare a plan B while EVROKO’s Demetris Syllouris said: “Ankara’s aim is to embed the notion that the Cyprus problem cannot be solved, so Turkey can implement its goal of partition in Cyprus.”

Citizens’ Alliance leader Giorgos Lillikas said Turkey will be satisfied with nothing less than complete control over Cyprus.

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