Cyprus Mail

‘Cyprus can no longer afford to remain divided’ (updated)

Andreas Mavroyiannis and Kudret Ozersay

THE CHIEF negotiators for the two sides, Andreas Mavroyiannis and Kudret Ozersay are expected to simultaneously visit Ankara and Athens on February 27 as part of the new peace process.

It will be the first time such meetings will have been held during Cyprus talks. Ozersay yesterday called the move “historic”.

The Cyprus News Agency quoted sources saying that Mavroyiannis would travel to Ankara next Thursday to meet the Turkish leadership while Ozersay would visit Athens the same day for similar talks. The meetings are part of measures to help the talks along by giving each side direct access to the two guarantor powers.

The two negotiators met last Friday, three days after talks resumed between President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu.

According to the joint statement, which sets the parameters for the negotiations, the two leaders will meet only as and when needed.

Earlier yesterday, Anastasiades said Cyprus could no longer afford to remain divided.

Hosting the children the US diaspora during a visit to the presidential palace, Anatasiades said the new round of negotiations aimed at to reaching a solution that would both address the concerns of Greek Cypriots without neglecting the concerns of Turkish Cypriots “so that the inhabitants of this country, of any origin, can live together”.

This would include the basic principles of the EU, and the UN Charter in safeguarding human rights and basic freedoms.

“We cannot afford to remain divided, we cannot afford to risk the existence of Hellenism in this country and we don’t have the luxury to continue thinking that either we or the Turkish Cypriots can survive while divided,” said Anastasiades.

“We respect the identity of our Turkish Cypriot compatriots, and at the same time we want them to respect our ethnic origins as well. And the state we are trying to build calls for peaceful coexistence, irrespective of the ethnic origin of each citizen.

The mayor of the occupied municipality of Kyrenia has thrown his weight behind the new round of peace talks. Speaking to reporters after meeting with a DISY delegation, mayor Glafkos Kariolou said yesterday the municipality welcomes the restart of negotiations.

“Another chance [for return to Kyrenia] is being created,” said Kariolou.

He said the municipal council listened ‘carefully’ to DISY’s positions regarding refugees’ return to Kyrenia “under conditions commensurate with EU law and respect for human rights.”

The municipality would monitor the progression of peace talks and expected that DISY would keep it abreast of developments, Kariolou added.

Kyrenia is one of the nine municipalities that are under Turkish occupation.

Running as an independent, Kariolou won the Kyrenia mayorship in the December 2011 municipal elections. He may be the first Kyrenia mayor to openly come out in favour of the peace talks since the previous settlement proposal was defeated in 2004.

The Annan Plan envisaged, among others, the gradual return of only a fraction of Kyrenia refugees to their homes and property according to a timeline stretching over decades.

Greek Cypriots rejected it by a resounding majority of 76 per cent, while 65 per cent of Turkish Cypriots had voted in favour. The plan needed to be approved by both communities.

Last year Nikos Tornaritis, a senior DISY figure, was forced – probably under pressure from his own party – to bandage earlier remarks, after telling refugees hailing from Kyrenia that their chances of returning were slim.

But DISY leader Averof Neophytou yesterday appeared to have convinced the leaders of the occupied municipality that Kyrenia is not a lost cause.

The right of return of Greek Cypriot refugees to Kyrenia under a settlement is both a national priority and an achievable objective, Neophytou said.

After the meeting, Neophytou praised the municipality for their sense of responsibility and pragmatism.

“We have heard the mayor of Kyrenia talk about how we have wasted tonnes of ink discussing what others are conspiring against our country, and how we never really talked about what we can do for our country,” Neophytou said of Kariolou.

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