President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci on Friday discussed the core issues of the Cyprus problem, EU matters, confidence building measures and economy, the UN said.
UN Special Adviser Espen Barth Eide, in a statement after the six-hour meeting said that since the leaders had last met, “the most intense period of negotiations to date” had taken place with daily meetings of the negotiators.
Eide said the upcoming visit of the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker to Cyprus next week would also provide a good opportunity to further underline the European Union’s readiness to assist the United Nations-led process.
“The leaders recognise the importance of having the principles and values upon which the European Union is founded upheld and embedded in the comprehensive settlement, whilst respecting its bizonal and bicommunal character,” said Eide.
He added that the working group on European Union matters had held its first meeting this week.
“The leaders welcome the European Union’s commitment to help the achievement of a comprehensive settlement and to prepare for the application of the EU acquis throughout the island,” Eide said.
He said that parallel to the meetings of the negotiators, working groups on property, the economy and European Union matters were meeting with increasing frequency, “making progress on some key issues”.
“At today’s meeting the leaders continued to focus on aspects of governance and power-sharing, on property, criteria on territory, cross cutting European Union issues and economic matters. The leaders also discussed the ongoing implementation of a range of confidence building measures,” Eide said.
He said they had also focused on economic issues.
“In today’s global economic climate it is essential that a functional, federal Cyprus is financially viable and committed to capitalising on the economic opportunities that will open up as a result of reaching a final settlement,” Eide said. This would be done in close cooperation with the relevant international financial institutions.
Speaking to reporters on his return to the presidential palace, Anastasiades said the intention was to secure a settlement bases on EU rules.
“What is being sought is to safeguard, through the rules of the EU, what has been agreed: the bizonal, bicommunal federation and political equality,” he said.
“Consequently, there is nothing that blocks the implementation of the European acquis. On the contrary, as it has been pointed out, the role that the EU can play is being intensified and upgraded in the effort to reach a federal solution to the Cyprus problem on the basis of all that have been agreed.” He said there were ways and methods to secure this without permanent derogations.
Asked how optimistic he was after the latest meeting with Akinci, Anastasiades said: “Without the discussion of all the material being completed one cannot be absolutely optimistic. However, I must say that I am cautiously optimistic that the problems that appear will also be overcome, so that we can reach, as soon as possible, a solution that will safeguard the durability, the functionality, the viability and, in particular, a European state.”
Akinci was less gung-ho about the EU aspect. On his return to the north he said the EU was an important factor in the talks but the negotiations process would remain first and foremost under the UN.
He said Friday’s meeting was long as the leaders had entered substantive negotiations on the key issues. Though CBMs were discussed, no decisions had been taken, he said. Technical committees were continuing their work in that area.
Akinci also referred to Juncker’s visit, saying there was a possibility the EU Commission president could possibly meet both leaders jointly.
“The EU is demonstrating an increased interest and this satisfies us,” said Akinci. “I emphasise, however, that the process of negotiations belongs to the UN and will continue to belong to the UN but the EU is certainly an important factor that will contribute to the process,” he said, making clear that the EU would not replace the UN nor would the role of the UN be diminished at the expense of a greater role for the EU. “This would be out of the question,” he added.
He also said that the economic aspect of the Cyprus solution was at the forefront in terms of EU involvement. “The cost of division is larger than the cost of the solution and we will be in need for assistance from international players,” Akinci said.
The leaders are due to meet again on Monday, July 27.