By Stefanos Evripidou
GREEK FOREIGN Minister Evangelos Venizelos on Thursday played postman on his trip to Ankara, taking with him a letter from President Nicos Anastasiades addressed to new Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Venizelos confirmed that Anastasiades had asked him to pass on a letter to the new Turkish head of state during his visit to Ankara to attend Erdogan’s swearing-in ceremony.
“President Anastasiades asked me to pass on a congratulatory letter to President Erdogan exactly because the Cyprus Republic government, President Anastasiades, understands very well the reality, that the determining factor for a Cyprus problem solution is Turkey” he said.
Regarding Greco-Turkish bilateral relations and developments in the wider region, Venizelos said the key to everything is a just and viable Cyprus solution based on UN decisions and the EU acquis.
“The Turkish leadership evidently understands this very well,” he said, adding he expects Erdogan to do his best to find a solution
Public broadcaster CyBC last night reported that Venizelos handed the letter to Turkey’s new Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.
According to government sources, Anastasiades’ letter is made up of two short paragraphs. The first congratulates Erdogan for winning the first direct presidential elections in Turkey while the second expresses hope that he will make a personal contribution to achieve a Cyprus problem solution which will be to the benefit of all interested parties.
The letter comes just days before Erdogan makes his first visit abroad as president to the occupied north of Cyprus. Those involved in the peace talks will be listening closely on Monday to hear what Erdogan has to say about the island’s division, which did not even register as an issue of discussion in the preceding election campaign in Turkey.
A day after Erdogan’s visit, on Tuesday, Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu will meet for the first time after the summer break in an effort to agree on the way forward in the talks.
Many feel that only a push from Erdogan will get the stagnant peace talks moving after months of inertia. The two sides appear to disagree not only on content but also methodology and how to move forward. The leaders’ respective negotiators met last Tuesday to prepare the ground for next week’s leaders’ meeting but were unable to reach consensus on the agenda.
Anastasiades on Thursday met with the Cyprus problem negotiating team at the presidential palace ahead of the September 2 meeting to exchange views on the latest developments.
He departs today for Brussels where he will participate in the extraordinary meeting of the European Council, and will return to Cyprus on Sunday afternoon.