By Stefanos Evripidou
TURKISH Cypriot negotiator Kudret Ozersay sounded unusually upbeat about the prospects of an agreement after meeting with his Greek Cypriot counterpart Andreas Mavroyiannis on Friday.
In a rare moment in the peace talks since they officially began on February 11, Ozersay said the two negotiators had a positive three-hour meeting.
Speaking on his return to the occupied areas, Ozersay said the two discussed matters relating to federal law and citizenship, the latter being a traditionally key topic of disagreement between the two sides.
“From the point of view of how this new partnership will come about and how the new states will be established, I can say it was an important meeting,” said Ozersay.
He told reporters he left the meeting feeling some issues that seem very difficult or insurmountable could be overcome.
“The meeting made me even more optimistic that we can find a way out. It was the longest and most productive meeting yet.”
There was also an understanding of what would follow, he said.
Ozersay and Mavroyiannis have been holding meetings for two months now in an effort to complete a ‘screening’ process of where the two sides stand on the various issues that make up the Cyprus problem and its eventual solution.
While Turkish Cypriot representatives argue that a deal could be done in a matter of months, their Greek Cypriot counterparts point to the divergent positions at the negotiating table, indicating an agreement is a long way off yet.
Ozersay said the two negotiators will go over four or five more issues next Tuesday to complete the ‘screening’ process where the two sides state their positions on the key issues in the talks.
On Monday, they will separately explore with the UN exactly how to proceed with the talks after the screening process.
“This is important to us,” he said.
Asked why he appeared more upbeat this time compared to his last meeting with Mavroyiannis, Ozersay referred to the ‘convergence document’ prepared by the UN that lists the convergences recorded in the talks between 2008 and 2012.
“The convergences document exists and is important.”
He hinted that yesterday’s meeting saw progress on this issue, adding that for Turkish Cypriots it was important not to lose all the work that’s been done in previous years of negotiations.
On coming to power, President Nicos Anastasiades refused to accept the UN’s convergence paper as an official document, instead referring to it as a ‘reference document’.
Aware that most of the convergences reached would remain, Anastasiades wanted to leave room for manoeuvre on a number of points that rankled sections of the Greek Cypriot community.
According to Greek Cypriot sources a week ago, in response to Anastasiades’ efforts, the Turkish Cypriots “completely unravelled” past convergences, creating a huge distance between the two sides’ positions.
Meanwhile, Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu held meetings on Friday afternoon with members of his side’s technical committees, including new members, to discuss their coordination.
Anastasiades briefed the main labour and teacher unions yesterday on the course of the peace talks.
SEK’s Nicos Moyseos said it was very important for the Cypriot people, a large number of whom are represented by unions, to be kept up to date on the talks so they can take a position in a future referendum.