By Stefanos Evripidou
NEGOTIATIONS on a joint communiqué are at a “very sensitive stage”, UN Special Adviser Alexander Downer said yesterday, remaining tight-lipped on how close or far the two sides were from an agreement.
Downer met for an hour first with President Nicos Anastasiades and then Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu, discussing “this joint declaration” that the two sides are working on.
Speaking after his meeting with Anastasiades, Downer said negotiations were “obviously at a very sensitive stage”. He described efforts to agree on a joint declaration as a “crucial part of the process”.
“This is going to be a very important part of the whole Cyprus peace process, both sides want to feel comfortable with the joint declaration and it is important to be very careful in what people say about it publicly at this stage and I think the public will understand,” said the UN diplomat.
Asked when fully-fledged negotiations would resume, he said: “The talks will begin when the joint declaration is complete.”
Following his meeting with Anastasiades, Downer met with Eroglu, after which he told reporters that the situation was very clear and further discussions with others would continue “very intensively” during the afternoon, he said.
The Australian, who recently arrived on the island, met with the two sides’ negotiators on Monday before meeting the two leaders yesterday. While some reports suggest the two sides are very close to an agreement, government spokesman Christos Stylianides warned on Monday that as far as the Cyprus problem goes, “one can be very close and yet at the same time very far from an agreement”.
Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper yesterday reported on statements made by Turkey’s EU Minister Egemen Bagis, that a Cyprus solution could lift the obstacles preventing the opening and closing of 14 chapters in Turkey’s EU accession negotiations.
“I believe that 2014 will be an important transformation year with regards to Turkey’s EU process,” he said.
In a separate article, Turkish Cypriot daily Afrika yesterday reported that the breakaway regime in the north has decided to install hydraulic road barriers at all crossing points across the island, with work already starting at the Ledra Palace checkpoint.
Under the front page banner headline, ‘Steel doors for the pen’, the paper argues that the move is one more step in reinforcing bizonality and division, noting that it was unclear whether the Turkish Cypriot authorities or the occupation army took the decision.