By Jean Christou
President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci have tasked their negotiators to focus on a specific set of core issues across chapters and report back at the next leaders’ meeting on June 29, UN Special Adviser Espen Barth Eide said on Wednesday.
The leaders were meeting to begin substantive negotiations on the core issues of the Cyprus problem, governance, property, territory and security based on a list of convergences and differences drawn up by their negotiators, Andreas Mavroyiannis and Ozdil Nami.
Eide said the leaders jointly reviewed the work achieved by their negotiators to date. He said they welcomed the successful conclusion of the baseline assessment that they had entrusted to the negotiators in their first meeting on May 15.
“Upon completing the baseline assessment, the leaders are now entering into substantive negotiations on unresolved core issues,” said Eide.
“The leaders agreed that these negotiations will be the centrepiece of their work from now on and that they will be dealt with in a holistic and interdependent manner. Therefore, Mr Anastasiades and Mr Akinci have tasked their negotiators to focus their work on a specific set of core issues across chapters. They will work intensively on this task and report back to the next leaders’ meeting to be held on 29 June 2015.”
Eide said the leaders also reviewed the implementation of those confidence building measures (CBM) that were previously announced – the opening of crossing points at Lefka and Dherynia, the establishment of a committee for culture and one on gender issues. During their meeting on Wednesday the leaders formulated a mandate for the new committee on gender equality and appointed its members, Eide said.
The special adviser said the leaders had also “with strong determination, and driven by their joint commitment” pursued their goal of reaching a solution.
“Mr Anastasiades and Mr Akinci expressed once again their resolve to move forward without delay and to achieve further progress towards reaching a comprehensive settlement,” Eide said.
Wednesday’s was the third official meeting between Anastasiades and Akinci.
On his return to the presidential palace, Anastasiades said he was cautiously optimistic about the climate and the work done so far.
Although he and Akinci had not “gone deep” into the issues, he said when asked: “Not yet, but we have found that the two negotiators have done significant work documenting the convergences and divergences on all of the issues.”
The leaders gave further guidance to the negotiators on Wednesday on how to handle the negotiating chapters “so that on the 29th of the month we can really get into a meaningful negotiation on the chapters which will be front of us,” Anastasiades said.
Asked to comment on possibly ‘overly optimistic’ statements by the UN special adviser on Tuesday Anastasiades added: “Our effort is to find a solution as soon as possible This of course will depend on the course of dialogue, therefore, we are all cautiously optimistic that the climate and the work done may result in a happy ending. But I repeat we are [right now] cautiously optimistic to see when we enter the final negotiations, what it is that unites us and what it is that separates us, and what can help to overcome problems and create a sustainable functional solution that is perfectly harmonised with the [EU] acquis communautaire.”
By Jean Christou