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CyprusCyprus Talks

‘Touch and go’ for joint statement

President Nicos Anastasiades briefs party leaders

THE ISLAND’S two communities yesterday appeared no closer to agreeing on a joint statement paving the way for the resumption of peace talks, with the government spokesman describing ongoing deliberations as touch-and-go.

“There is nothing definite yet…but also there is nothing that cannot change at the last instant,” Christos Stylianides told reporters.

He added: “That is why I say, because various rumours are circulating, that everyone knows from experience that on the Cyprus issue one can be very close and yet at the same time very far from an agreement. Even a single word can change everything.”

His comments came shortly after a lengthy briefing given by President Anastasiades to party leaders at the Palace.

Anastasiades has a set as a precondition for the start of a new round of negotiations the issuing of a joint declaration, where he wants it recorded that the new state would have a single citizenship, a single international personality and a single sovereignty.

The Turkish Cypriot side meanwhile counters that the federated states must be considered “founding states” in a new, reunited Cyprus, giving them sovereignty and “residual powers” to decide on matters like citizenship.

A meeting between Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu in late November failed to clinch a deal on a joint communiqué.

Despite media reports that, behind the scenes, a joint statement had been all but finalised, the government yesterday played it cautious.

Asked whether the United Nations have handed over a draft declaration, Stylianides said: “There have been two or three documents, not but not from the UN, and they [party leaders] have been thoroughly briefed.”

The spokesman added that “certain concerns” were raised during the meeting at the Palace. He refused to be drawn also on whether the parties would give the President the green light to start peace talks in the event the Turkish Cypriots accepted the purported Greek Cypriot proposal.

“We are now at a critical juncture, and it was decided not to make statements on the content of the discussions as it would be improper to engage in a public negotiation,” he said, declining to give more details.

For the time being, Stylianides said, there was no deal on a joint statement. He rejected the view that the two communities have reached an impasse on the issue.

Asked to comment on a statement made by AKEL leader Andros Kyprianou – who said the Greek Cypriot side has delivered a new proposal to the Turkish Cypriots and is awaiting their response – Stylianides again was non-committal.

“The international community is assisting the deliberations in various ways,” he offered.

On Turkish media reports that the two sides were very close to agreeing a joint declaration, Stylianides reiterated: “When it comes to the Cyprus problem you can be at 99 per cent, but a single word can scupper an agreement. I advise caution and let us await how things develop over the next days.”

Meanwhile also yesterday Alexander Downer, the UN Secretary General’s Special Adviser on Cyprus, held separate meetings with the two communities’ chief negotiators, Andreas Mavroyiannis and Osman Ertug.

The UN official, who arrived here over the weekend, will today be meeting Anastasiades, later crossing to the north to see Eroglu.

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