By Jean Christou
PRESIDENT Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu will meet on March 31, it was announced yesterday.
The date for the meeting was agreed between chief negotiators Andreas Mavroyiannis and Kudret Ozersay at their regular meeting earlier in the day.
This will be the second leaders’ meeting since the new round of talks began on February 11.
According to the joint declaration, which sets out the parameters for the negotiations, the leaders would meet “as often as needed”.
Mavroyiannis and Ozersay held substantive discussions on issues connected to different chapters yesterday, a statement said. They will meet again on Friday.
Turkish Cypriot press yesterday quoted Eroglu as saying his side had asked for the negotiators to meet twice a week and the leaders every 15 days but it was not accepted by the Greek Cypriot side.
“I wonder, are they waiting for something else? We do not know… starting the give and take does not depend on us, but we are ready…,” he said. “If our Greek Cypriot neighbours stay committed to the text of the ‘Joint Declaration’ without distorting it, without diversions, our job will be easier and this text will be turned into an instrument. Otherwise, the Turks of Cyprus might be forced to take new decisions…”
Also yesterday, Anastasiades briefed the Holy Synod on developments.
“I had the opportunity to inform them, not only in person but also with documents that were given to each of the members of the Holy Synod,” he said after the meeting.
Anastasiades said some of the issues were debated and he answered the clerics’ questions. “It was a very, very useful meeting and the climate was excellent,” he added.
On Monday night, Anastasiades spoke with US Vice President Joe Biden over the phone to discuss issues of regional concern, a White House official said.
According to the official, Biden, who is in Chile, contacted Anastasiades and discussed with him the situation in the Ukraine, the Cyprus issue and other matters.
“The two leaders expressed firm support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognised borders, and consulted on steps to lead to a de-escalation of the situation and peaceful resolution,” the official White House readout said.
Biden “welcomed the conclusions of the European Council on March 6, which sent a strong signal that Russia’s military actions in Crimea are unacceptable”.
Ηe also welcomed the resumption of Cyprus talks and re-affirmed the US’s full support for the process.
At the same time, the Turkish Cypriot ‘foreign minister’ Ozdil Nami has just completed his contacts in the Washington, meeting US Deputy Secretary of State, William Burns.
According to Turkish Cypriot media, the Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs of the US, Eric Rubin and Washington’s ambassador to Nicosia, John Koenig took part in the meeting.
Nami said they discussed the positive influence a solution would have on regional stability, the relations between the EU and Turkey and the EU and NATO, and on cooperation in the region with respect to hydrocarbons.
“We have put forward our expectations from the US and the international community,” he said.
Turkish Cypriot daily Havadis said yesterday that Matthew Bryza, former US diplomat who is currently member of TURCAS Oil, set out the reasons for increased US interest in Cyprus.
Bryza said that geopolitical factors and NATO were the reasons. NATO’s structure could not be considered to be “fully healthy” as long as there is no peace between Greece and Turkey, which have a key importance for the alliance’s south wing, he said.
“If you examine the area, the policies in the area, the relations of Israel with the Arab countries and natural gas’ export costs, the most reasonable method is building a pipeline from Israel, or more correctly, from Israel and Cyprus to Turkey,” he said.