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US ‘was wrong’ to back Annan plan, says negotiator

By Staff Reporter

GREEK Cypriot negotiator Andreas Mavroyiannis has said the US erred in backing the Annan plan in 2004 instead of allowing the two sides to work out an agreement on their own.

In an interview with the Washington Times, Mavroyiannis said:  “Everybody recognises now that it was a mistake.”

He said, however, the current role of the US was positive and that Washington had been acting as a more honest broker and “as friends of the process.”

The U.S. is currently engaged in efforts to support President Nicos Anastasiades’ push to have confidence-building measures (CBM) or gamechangers, run parallel to the negotiations to help boost the talks. The priority CBM for the Greek Cypriots is the return of the fenced-off area of Famagusta, known as Varosha.

Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Eric Rubin was in Nicosia this week to discuss the ‘gamechangers’ and spoke of mechanisms and initiatives the US was working on to help move the negotiations forward.

Mavroyiannis told the Washington Times that he and his Turkish Cypriot counterpart Kudret Ozersay – who do the groundwork for the leaders –  were currently going through a “screening process” that has identified a lot of  divergences” between the two sides.

“I want to caution against being overoptimistic, not because we are not determined, but we have not seen any concrete results yet,” he said.

“We are still stuck in the beginning of the process.”

He said it was too early to predict how long the process would take.

“At the same time, we all understand that there is a window of opportunity which will not last forever,” he added.

Mavroyiannis on Tuesday criticised Ozersay for breaking the confidentiality of the talks. He also denied Ozersay’s claim that the Greek Cypriot side was trying to renegotiate convergences agreed during the previous round of talks under Mehmet Ali Talat and Demetris Christofias.

The Greek Cypriot negotiator told the American newspaper that the discovery of hydrocarbons off Cyprus could serve as a catalyst but ruled out discussing energy exploration with the Turkish Cypriot side at this point.

“US interest in the process is driven by the hope that the gas discoveries open avenues of cooperation and restore at least a working relationship between Israel and Turkey,” he said.

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