By Jean Christou
TURKISH Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu came under fire from the Greek Cypriot side on Wednesday for what the government called his attempts to misrepresent the state of the talks to the UN.
After meeting UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in New York on Monday night, Eroglu said the Turkish Cypriot side expected the conclusion of the current negotiations with a settlement by the end of this year.
Eroglu claimed that the resumption of the negotiations on February 11 had given the Turkish Cypriots hope a deal would be reached but in case the negotiations were prolonged and the Greek Cypriots submitted what he called “excessive demands”, this hope would diminish, he said. He also talked of a meeting of the two leaders with Ban.
But Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides on Wednesday said no such meeting was on the cards. Speaking on a CyBC morning talk show, Kasoulides said a meeting with the Secretary-General could happen only if there was something important in the works that would lead to a final settlement or the ratification of any issue on which there was a common understanding or agreement.
The two leaders themselves have met only twice since the current round of talks began. Their last meeting was on March 31. The bulk of the negotiations are being carried out by their negotiators, Andreas Mavroyiannis and Kudret Ozersay, and it’s no secret the talks are not going well.
Kasoulides slammed Eroglu on Wednesday for giving the impression that the talks were “five minutes away from progress” when the truth was the contrary, he said.
He said Eroglu’s statements in New York were part of the attempt by the Turkish side to create the illusion of progress where there was none.
“This is quite contrary to the positions on the table, which do not leave room for progress,” he said. “Everyone knows what is being discussed at the table and what is reasonable and what is unreasonable,” he added without wanting to apportion blame.
Meanwhile, President Nicos Anastasiades met on Wednesday the secretariat of former coalition partner DIKO, which withdrew from the government over the contents of the joint declaration between the two sides that helped kick start the latest round of talks.
DIKO leader Nicolas Papadopoulos said the party delegation had conveyed to the president its concerns over the joint statement, saying it was “a poor basis for the start of negotiations.”
“We see daily that the joint communiqué works against the Greek Cypriot side as a shield for the positions of the Turkish Cypriot side,” he added.
“Turkey violates daily our Exclusive Economic Zone with their ship Barbaros but the UN Secretary-General talks about momentum in the negotiations,” Papadopoulos said.