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Reduction of military forces, buffer-zone ‘peace park’ included on CBM list (updated)

By Jean Christou

President Nicos Anastasiades on Thursday handed the list of confidence building measures (CBM) to the party leaders during the National Council meeting. The list was leaked shortly afterwards.

The suggestions include, in addition to the ones already spoken about – such as additional crossing points – the possibility of reducing military forces along the ceasefire line, facilitating the expansion of trade measures and creating a ‘peace park’ in the buffer zone.

“I have given the list of the measures to the members of the National Council, exactly what we have proposed. And what we seek is to maintain the good climate and not to concentrate on the confidence-building measures, but on the substance [of the Cyprus issue] which will [in itself] solve many of the proposed measures,” Anastasiades said after the meeting.

Asked whether Famagusta was included on the list of measures, the President said: “Most certainly. It was not possible for it not to be included. It just has not been discussed yet.”

On the list (below) the proposal for Famagusta is to allow access to experts to reconstruct and preserve cultural and religious monuments in the abandoned town. But Anastasiades said the CBMs should not be the entire focus of the negotiations. The move is designed to facilitate the talks, not overshadow them. He said the list was “evolutionary”.

“We are aiming to maintain a good climate and not focus on the CBMs but on the substance that will solve many issues related to the proposed CBMs,” said Anastasiades was likely referring to taking military steps and ‘free trade’. On Tuesday the European Commission’s annual report on the Green Line Regulation said trade was slightly up in 2014 but still low given that the regulation has been in force for 10 years.

Anastasiades made it clear that none of the proposals listed went against the interests of the Republic. The leaders had decided on low-level CBMs that could be implemented quickly and without too much difficulty.

Party leaders had mixed feelings as they came out of the meeting on Thursday. The hardliners all spoke about premature optimism. Greens leader Giorgos Perdikis was “concerned about the “boundless enthusiasm that did not address the realities”. Also, he said the information they had received from the President was “brief and vague”.

DIKO leader Nicolas Papadopoulos said the party would oppose any measures that would downgrade the Republic and upgrade the breakaway state in the north. He said he would outline in detail the party’s objections to some of the CBMs shortly.

EVROKO also said it would wait to submit its response at the next council session.

“We should not jump the gun developments. The illusion that Turkey’s policy towards Cyprus has changed would be a big mistake,” the party said.

EDEK leader Marinos Sizopoulos said: “There is no need to cultivate optimism, given that the talks have not yet begun.”

Only DISY was positive, with AKEL “cautiously positive”. “One cannot ignore the hope this window has opened, ” said DISY leader Averof Neophytou.

AKEL chief Andros Kyprianou said his party would work with Anastasiades to play a positive and constructive role “We should make every effort, all of us to exploit in the best way this window of opportunity that has opened,” he said.

The National Council is due to convene again after Anastasiades’ next meeting with Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci on June 17.

The proposed measures are:

  • The creation of a peace park, market bazaar or industrial area in the buffer zone
  • Extending the Pediaos river path to the north
  • To create a common space for cultural activity with a crossing at Paphos gate to attract visitors
  • Opening all crossings in the walled city of Nicosia
  • Reinforcement of the technical committees
  • Conservation of religious sites
  • Establishment of a committee for culture
  • Establishment of a committee on gender issues
  • Reinforcement of the committee on missing persons (CMP)
  • Improvement of the daily life of the enclaved Greek Cypriots in the breakaway state in providing health care, and also the renovation of the food storage building in Rizokarpasso
  • Opening crossings at Kaimakili, Dherynia, Pomos-Kato Pyrgos-Kokkina, Potamos-Kampou, and Lefka
  • Reducing military forces along the ceasefire line
  • Avoiding interference in radio frequencies
  • Solving outstanding issues relating to commercial vehicles to facilitate the Green Line Regulation while removing all barriers to trade between both sides
  • To allow access to experts to reconstruct and preserve cultural and religious monuments in Famagusta
  • Translating the website of the Financial Commissioner into Turkish
  • Linking of the electricity grids in three stages

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