By Stefanos Evripidou
THE TWO negotiators yesterday met to prepare the ground for the leaders’ meeting on Monday and continue negotiations for a comprehensive Cyprus settlement.
During the three-hour meeting, Andreas Mavroyiannis and Kudret Özersay discussed ‘external relations’ and the ‘federal executive’ of a future reunified Cyprus, as well as the agenda of the leaders’ meeting next week.
According to the UN, the two negotiators did not conclude on the agenda during the meeting, leaving the UN to meet again separately with both sides to finalise preparations for Monday’s meeting between President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu.
Speaking from New York, government spokesman Nicos Christodoulides said during yesterday’s meeting, Mavroyiannis submitted documents on federal legislative powers while Ozersay tabled documents on the federal executive and property.
The two will meet again next Wednesday to discuss property, executive and legislative powers as well as federal government competences.
Christodoulides is in New York to meet with UN officials and representatives of the UN Security Council ahead of the UN Secretary General’s report on UNFICYP due next month, which is expected to include references to the UN Good Offices mission in Cyprus.
Greens’ leader Giorgos Perdikis yesterday repeated his call for a National Council meeting to discuss the documents being tabled at the negotiations.
He argued that, according to his information, proposals are already being tabled that “go way beyond the so-called red lines”, referring specifically to the issue of a rotating presidency in a federal Cyprus.
Perdikis said the Turkish Cypriot side appears to consider this issue a given.
The Greens deputy added: “We’ve been informed that the Americans do not guarantee that the Turks will not continue their provocations in Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ).”
The only guarantee they are willing to give is that “they won’t allow the Turks to intervene in drilling and research carried out by companies in contract with the Cyprus Republic”.
Perdikis argued that the Americans had supposedly given Anastasiades assurances Turkey would not be allowed to continue its provocations in Cyprus’ EEZ as a way of encouraging him to sign up to the joint declaration agreed by the two leaders last February.
Turkish Deputy Prime Minister responsible for Cypriot Affairs Besir Atalay was yesterday quoted saying Turkey is ready to solve the Cyprus problem, though when this would happen was difficult to say due to the stance of the Greek Cypriot side.
In an interview with Turkish Cypriot daily Havadis, Atalay said in parallel to Turkey’s “constructive” role in the peace talks, the EU and the US could also positively contribute to the process. This injects the process with a little bit more hope since the international community is showing greater will towards reaching a solution, he said.
“We want to see the negotiations process progress successfully and reach a solution,” said Atalay.
It is widely believed among diplomatic circles that Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu made two significant contributions to the peace process this year through two timely visits to the occupied areas to meet with the Turkish Cypriot leadership.
Following the first visit, Anastasiades and Eroglu reached agreement on a joint declaration after five months of drawn out negotiations. His second visit preceded the historic arrival of US Vice President Joe Biden to Cyprus.
The US Embassy was struggling to reach agreement with Eroglu on the terms on which Biden would meet with the Turkish Cypriot leader. It is believed Davutoglu encouraged Eroglu not to get bogged down in details and receive Biden on terms acceptable to the Americans.
Despite Biden’s refusal to meet Eroglu in the presence of flags or symbols of the breakaway regime, and his snub to a request for a handshake photo op, Davutoglu later welcomed the Vice President’s visit north as evidence that the two sides were treated equally by the US.
In yesterday’s interview, Atalay also welcomed Biden’s visit as making a positive contribution to the talks, though nothing concrete came out of it, he said.
He argued that an agreement which will be protecting the rights of the Turkish Cypriots and overseeing their equality is a condition for the solution.
Regarding hydrocarbons exploration in the region, Atalay said Turkey has undertaken an “important role” as a transit country between East and West and accumulated “important experiences”.
The Ukraine crisis has further strengthened the importance of Turkey’s role, he said, arguing that the most rational and efficient way to transport gas from the eastern Mediterranean basin to Europe is through Turkey.
The Turkish Deputy PM said the natural wealth around Cyprus should benefit the entire island, “and both sides”, adding that if there is to be development around Cyprus, Turkey will have a role to play in getting this gas to Europe.