Cyprus Mail

Talks bolstered by AKEL support

Presidential hopeful Stavros Malas

By Peter Stevenson

PRESIDENT Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu will meet in the United Nations protected area of Nicosia at the Good Offices Mission on Tuesday at 11.30am, the UN announced on Saturday.

Both leaders announced their agreement to a draft joint declaration on Friday, paving the way for the resumption of the stalled peace talks.

There are no plans, at this stage, for Alexander Downer, the UN’s special envoy, to make it to Cyprus in time for Tuesday’s first meeting, according to diplomatic sources.

“Downer, the UN Secretary General’s Special Advisor on Cyprus, is not scheduled to come for now,” the sources said.

The UN will be represented by Chief of Mission and UN Secretary General’s Representative in Cyprus Lisa Buttenheim.

“The meeting will give the two leaders the chance to sit down together officially for the first time since negotiations broke off a year and a half ago. Not too much will be discussed other than determining point number eight on the joint statement,” the sources said.

Point eight of the joint statement has been left open to give the leaders the chance to announce topics other than those covered in the previous seven points.

Government spokesman Christos Stylianides said on Saturday that within the joint communiqué it is clear that there is no possibility of secession, something the president insisted on.

“Those claiming that there is a provision for two separate sovereignties are mistaken. It is also clear that there is no issue within the joint communiqué regarding arbitration from other countries,” he said.

The government spokesman added that it is possible that the political parties have most likely not fully read the statement, causing some of them to react so negatively.

He echoed Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras’ comments on Friday that there needs to be national unity, adding that the government will do whatever is in its power to make sure there will not be a divisive atmosphere on the island.

“We will all be together for this difficult negotiation and despite any disagreements the president would like to continue with the consent of all the political powers which can all contribute,” he said.

Stylianides added that Anastasiades truly appreciated the responsible stance of opposition AKEL and especially the statement made on Friday by the party’s Secretary General Andros Kyprianou that he would keep a responsible attitude regardless of the political cost.

Former health minister and AKEL presidential candidate in last year’s elections, Stavros Malas yesterday said he would support Anastasiades during the negotiation process as he felt it is Cyprus’ last chance to find a solution.

Malas said that the circumstances favour an assertive policy.

“No-one’s shoulders are broad enough to carry this burden and even those who disagree have a role to play but the president should not be weakened in this struggle because we have seen the results in the past,” he said.

Describing it as a historic moment, Malas said “we should not be fighting for political vindication but the vindication of our country, because if the president fails then it is Cyprus which will lose.”

Small countries need bold policies and political stature to effectively assert their geostrategic role, the former health minister said.

AKEL’s political office yesterday called on all the political parties to rise to the occasion through cooperation and understanding.

Speaking at a press conference party spokesman Giorgos Loucaides said the party had decided to support the negotiations and called on the president to be consistent in principles of a settlement.

Coalition party DIKO in a statement on Saturday repeated its call for Anastasiades to abandon the joint communiqué, pleading with him to opt for a simpler and shorter text which had been suggested by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon last month. EDEK and the Citizens’ Alliance also repeated their own opposition to the declaration.

On Thursday, Eroglu had received a phone call from US Deputy Secretary of State William J. Burns.

The same day, following tweaks to the previous draft communiqué, Anastasiades approved the final text, drawing fire from coalition partners DIKO and EVROKO as well as minority opposition parties EDEK, the Greens and Citizens’ Alliance. Only ruling DISY and main opposition AKEL offered their support for the start of talks.

According to a White House statement, Anastasiades also received a phone call Friday afternoon from US Vice President Joe Biden confirming US support for a solution and appreciation of Cyprus as “a key partner in a vital region”.

The statement said Biden looked forward to the resumption of talks in the coming days, and “encouraged creative thinking on ways to improve prospects for success”.

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