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Leaders meeting postponed as UN envoy due in Cyprus

Newly-appointed UN Special Adviser on Cyprus, Espen Barth Eideis due in Cyprus on September 5th

By Stefanos Evripidou

THE UNITED Nations yesterday postponed next week’s leaders’ meeting to give time for newly-appointed UN Special Adviser on Cyprus, Espen Barth Eide, to visit the island for talks with both sides.

UN spokesman Michel Bonnardeaux released a statement last night saying Eide will make his first visit to Cyprus between September 5 and 8, during which time he will hold initial bilateral meetings with the two leaders and their teams.

From Tuesday to Thursday next week, Eide will be in New York for consultations with the UN Secretary-General and other senior UN officials, including deputy special adviser Lisa Buttenheim, before arriving in Cyprus on Friday.

“As a consequence, the UN has requested a short postponement of the leaders’ meeting” originally scheduled for next Tuesday, said Bonnardeaux. During his visit to the island, Eide will consult with the two leaders on an appropriate date for their September meeting, he added.

Sources told the Cyprus Mail yesterday that the two sides and the UN were unable to agree on a way to overcome the impasse recorded before the summer break.

The last leaders’ meeting in July ended in acrimony with the Turkish Cypriots accusing President Nicos Anastasiades of walking out of the talks in a huff, and the Greek Cypriots slamming Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu for his obstinate refusal to accept any of their proposals.

The two sides were unable to agree on the content of the talks, how they should proceed or even low-level confidence-building measures.

Anastasiades was due to meet Eroglu next week to see if they could kick-start the near comatose peace talks, despite the fact last Tuesday’s meeting of the two negotiators failed to come up with a potential breakthrough.

Some pinned their hopes on the arrival of new Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to the occupied areas on Monday, with many waiting to hear what he has to say, if anything, on the flagging peace process.

According to press reports yesterday, the new Turkish leadership responded politely to a congratulatory letter sent by Anastasiades to Erdogan on his election.

Sources from the Greek foreign ministry told public broadcaster CyBC that Greek Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos, in Ankara to attend Erdogan’s swearing-in ceremony, discussed the contents of the letter with both Erdogan and Turkey’s new Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.

According to the sources, both Erdogan and Davutoglu said Ankara wants a solution to the Cyprus problem.

During Thursday’s celebratory lunch and evening reception in Ankara, Venizelos reportedly spoke at length with Erdogan, and also had the chance to talk with outgoing EU affairs minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, who was yesterday appointed by Davutoglu as Turkey’s new foreign minister.

The same sources also expressed the view that Ankara sees Anastasiades as a credible interlocutor, and hailed his initiative to send the letter, saying it was a good, symbolic move.

Government sources told the Cyprus Mail that in the two-paragraph letter, Anastasiades congratulates Erdogan for winning the first direct presidential elections in Turkey. In the second paragraph, the Cypriot president hopes for Erdogan’s personal contribution to achieve a Cyprus problem solution that will benefit all interested parties.

The letter was passed on by the Greek foreign ministry’s secretary general Anastasios Mitsialis to Turkish foreign ministry undersecretary Feridun Sinirlioglu.

Meanwhile, in a message to mark Kemal Ataturk’s victory over Greek forces in 1922, Eroglu said yesterday Turkish Cypriots will always protect their independence and freedom without straying from the path of peace. They will continue their “brotherly relations” with “motherland” Turkey and will never waive the guarantee provided by the Turkish armed forces.

If the Greek Cypriot side wants a viable agreement, providing prosperity and security to the “two peoples” on the island, then it must be realistic, stop dreaming and not expect concessions from the other side, said Eroglu.

The appointment of Davutoglu as prime minister was widely welcomed by the Turkish Cypriot political parties yesterday.
Leader of the Social Democracy Party (TDP) Cemal Ozyigit expressed hope that Davutoglu will contribute to the peace process, noting that the former foreign minister was one of the main architects behind the February 11 joint declaration by the two leaders.

National Unity Party (UBP) leader Huseyin Ozgurgun and Democratic Party (DP) official Serhat Kotak highlighted that Davutoglu was very well versed on the Cyprus problem.

Kutlay Erk from the Republican Turkish Party (CTP) said he expects the new Turkish PM to encourage the two sides at the negotiating table.

Former Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat was quoted saying he did not expect any change in Turkey’s stance on the Cyprus problem. He argued that the peace talks are going nowhere, and slammed Eroglu for following a policy a “non-solution is the solution” policy.

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