President Nicos Anastasiades said on Tuesday, following the first meeting in a new round of Cyprus talks, that the day was the beginning of the end of an undesirable situation “that has kept our island and our people divided for 40 years”.
Anastasiades was speaking on his return to the presidential palace after meeting for around 90 minutes with Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu under the auspices of the Good Offices Mission of the UN.
In his comments at the palace, Anastasiades said it was the desire of both leaders to reach a solution in a climate of mutual respect and understanding, that would permanently end the current unacceptable state of affairs. It would also create the conditions to live in a modern European state “which will create the conditions for coexistence, and progress by respecting the human rights of all citizens”.
“I want to believe that this day will be the beginning of putting to an end to an undesirable and unacceptable situation that has kept the island and our people divided for 40 years,” Anastasiades said.
“Today’s joint declaration sets the framework for the basic principles of a solution. What is necessary is the vision and determination of the leaders and the people of Cyprus to work so that trust is restored on one hand and achieving a solution that will not have any losers,” he added.
Addressing the Greek Cypriot parties, some of whom oppose the Joint Declaration, Anastasiades said that while he fully respected different opinions, he was calling for a response to the common desire of all Greek Cypriots to join forces for what is to come. The Joint Declaration was not the final solution but the beginning of a painstaking effort to get to the desired goals, he said.
He said he was sure that love of country and the patriotism of all the political forces would lend themselves to the unity that would be needed to for achieving “the expectations of our people. ”
The first talks between the leaders of the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities in 18 months got underway on Tuesday morning, lasting around 90 minutes at the UN Protected Area (UNPA) at the old Nicosia airport.
First to arrive just after 11.30am was Dervis Eroglu who was accompanied by five aides, and his chief negotiator Kudret Ozersay.
Anastasiades arrived some five minutes later with his team, which included Chief Negotiator for the Greek Cypriots Andreas Mavroyiannis and the Director of the President’s Diplomatic Office Nicos Christodoulides.
Both men were greeted separately by UN Special Representative Lisa Buttenheim who took them inside the Good Offices Mission.
When the meeting ended Buttenheim read out the final text of the joint declaration, which contained seven points setting out the parameters for the resumption of talks.
She also said the leaders had instructed their negotiators to fix their first meeting this week. According to the joint declaration, the leaders themselves “will meet as often as needed”, and nothing will be agreed until everything is agreed.
Written statements by the UN Secretary-General’s Special Advisor Alexander Downer – who was not at the meeting – and UNSG Ban Ki-moon are due later in the afternoon.
Anastasiades will also hold a news conference on Wednesday night.
Dozens of media outlets, local and international, were present on Tuesday to witness the biggest movement on the Cyprus issue since the last round of talks began in 2008 between former President Demetris Christofias and former Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat, which ended in failure like so many before them.