By Jean Christou
The two leaders are expected to discuss confidence building measures in parallel with, but not as a substitute for, the negotiations, Government Spokesman Nicos Christodoulides said on Tuesday.
Commenting on the outcome of the dinner on Monday night between President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci, Christodoulides said it had taken place in a positive climate with constructive discussion, mainly with regard to procedures during the negotiations. There was also “intent and desire” for the leaders to meet more often, he added.
“It was a sincere and open dialogue,” he said. “It is important that the resumption of the talks on Friday was agreed. The first meeting will mainly deal with structural and procedural issues. The joint declaration and all that is provided in it were confirmed.”
With regard to confidence building measures (CBM) the spokesman said it was agreed that the discussion begins on CBMs that that can be pushed forward directly and fast.
He mentioned as an example the opening of more crossing points.
Christodoulides said both leaders “see and understand” the added value of CBMs to the process. He said that in June 2014, Anastasiades had sent a document with 30 ‘low-level’ measures “which if there is good will, can be implemented quickly and will positively affect the daily life of the Cypriot people and at the same time strengthen the objective of the negotiations”.
“In the summer of 2014 we proposed the opening of five crossing points,” he said but added that the CBMs were designed to serve the objectives of the negotiations and not become a substitute.
Christodoulides also said that Anastasiades had promised to deliver to Akinci at their first meeting, the location of 28 minefields on the Pentadaktylos mountain range.
The talks themselves would involve concrete dialogue on specific aspects “and we hope that through a meaningful and sincere dialogue we will achieve results,” the spokesman said.
On an EU role in the negotiations, Christodoulides said there had been discussion on the role that the EU could play for in the process for a solution and in its implementation.
The EU acquis could function as a safety valve for the implementation of many provisions in a solution.
Anastasiades on Tuesday met separately with the ambassadors of Germany and Greece, and with the British High Commissioner to brief them on developments.
British High Commissioner Damian Roderic Todd said the resumption of talks was a positive development.
“I said to the President that the UK government, me personally, all of us in the UK, we are keen to do what we can to support the process of a settlement partly because we are a P5 member [Permanent Member of the UN Security Council], partly because we are a guarantor power, but also because Britain and Cyprus have such extraordinary human connections, culturally and in human terms. We want to do everything we can to bring about a settlement of the Cyprus issue.”
Asked about whether he saw the possibility of EU involvement in the process, Todd said: “Everyone agrees that this is a process led by the UN. We are all working on the basis of an agreed framework of the UN Security Council resolutions. Mr Eide [UN Special Adviser] is working very hard and very well to bring about a settlement. The EU of course has an important role to play in support of that settlement, I know that the UK and every other member of the EU will do what they can to help and, of course, the European role matters; but it is a UN led process,” Todd added.
“We have a framework of the UN Security Council resolutions. Cyprus is a member of the EU as is the UK. A united Cyprus will be in the EU. Therefore the EU does have a role to play but the process is one which is led by the UN.”
Asked if a solution should be compatible with European principles and values, Todd said every country in the EU ascribes to European principles and values. “So, yes, of course”.
Invited to say whether the UK was ready to abandon its role as a guarantor power, Todd said that was a question he would have to discuss further.
“The UK government has only just taken office, so I think I will answer your question later,” he concluded.
German Ambassador Nikolai von Schoepff, said after his meeting with Anastasiades that he had offered Germany’s support for the peace process.
“We are very encouraged from what is going on,” the ambassador said.
To a question whether Germany supported the proposal for a more active involvement of the EU in the negotiation process, he added: “Absolutely. Germany is in favour of a strong EU here. Cyprus is part of the EU, and the EU should be more active here. We fully support this”.
“We reaffirm our full support for the UN-facilitated process under UN Special Adviser Espen Barth Eide, and we reiterate our willingness to assist the process in any way the parties find useful, added White House National Security Council spokesperson Bernadette Meehan.
“We encourage the parties to reach a settlement as soon as possible to reunify the island as a bizonal, bicommunal federation, which would benefit all Cypriots as well as the wider region.”