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Eide says focus on the future

UN Special Adviser Espen Barth Eide (r) with UN Special Representative for Cyprus Lisa Buttenheim at the Presidential Palace yesterday (CNA)

UN SPECIAL Adviser on Cyprus Espen Barth Eide said yesterday he remained “realistically optimistic” that the two communities could set aside the standoff over the hydrocarbons row and resume peace talks.

Speaking to the media after a long meeting with President Nicos Anastasiades at the Presidential Palace, the UN official said it was necessary for the leaders of the communities to reach an agreement.

Quizzed about the prospects for a deal allowing the resumption of reunification negotiations, Eide said he did not expect a deal today [Thursday].

Responding to a question as to why his meeting with Anastasiades lasted two hours, Eide said only: “Good meetings always take time.”

Eide said both sides in Cyprus should focus on the future. Asked if he brought a formula to solve the impasse, he said: “I have a number of ideas which you can call a formula or package”, adding that “it is too early to reveal the details because I am still in discussions with both sides and nothing has been agreed so far, nor did I expect anything to be agreed”.

“But I want to insist on which is my main message, that both leaders agree that hydrocarbons will be part of the shared future of a united Cyprus. There is a striking agreement on the future and almost no agreement on the present,” he said, urging everyone to focus on the future.

Asked whether he believed that the issue of natural gas should be put on the negotiating table, he said that “if the table means UN table, that is up to the sides”. He stressed that it was important for everyone in Cyprus to discuss what will happen in the future when there is a unified island.

For his part, government spokesman Nicos Christodoulides told reporters that Anastasiades and Eide discussed “a range of ideas” on how peace talks might resume.

“There has been no conclusion. We welcome Mr. Eide’s efforts,” Christodoulides said.

To the Greek Cypriot side, he added, the cessation of Turkish provocations was a precondition for returning to the negotiating table.

Earlier in the day, Eide met with Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu, who on Wednesday said that the withdrawal of a Turkish research vessel from Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone was “out of the question.”

On Wednesday, speaking in Athens, Eide had described the dispute between Turkey and Cyprus over offshore drilling as “really quite dangerous” and he encouraged all parties to do their utmost to avoid any further escalation.

The United States has expressed concern about recent developments in the eastern Mediterranean.

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