President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci met on Friday as part of a series of three sessions slated for December and following six meetings during intensive talks last month.
The meeting came a day after the visit by US Secretary of State John Kerry and two days after that of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
Kerry met with both leaders separately on Thursday, saying he was convinced that a Cyprus solution was within reach and that now was the moment for Cyprus.
Speaking after the leaders’ meeting, Anastasiades on his return to the presidential palace said the dialogue had been constructive though differences remained. The leaders had discussed the thorny issue of property among other topic. “In the coming meetings we will continue with the dame constructive dialogue,” he said.
Anastasiades and Akinci are due to meet again on December 15 and 20, and will pay a joint visit to the anthropological lab of the Committee on Missing Persons on December 20.
Asked about the dinner he had on Thursday night with Kerry and Akinci under the auspices of the UN, Anastasiades said: “It was a productive discussion” and that Kerry had been positive.
Referring to discussions on the cost of a solution, the president said they were awaiting the expert views of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in terms of accurate data and not just approximate calculations.
An IMF team is currently on the island.
Weighing in on a week of high-profile visits, Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides told CyBC on Friday that he agreed with Kerry’s sentiment that now is the time for a solution.
“There may have been difficulties, especially in terms of the property issue, but many of these difficulties been overcome and I believe we will ultimately overcome the others and the negotiations will proceed in order to arrive at a conclusion as soon as possible,” he said.
Commenting on the high-level meetings this week, he said they were a means of encouragement to the two sides and there was no issue of direct involvement in the talks. “The solution will not come from outside,” he said. “Mr Kerry has offered US support in this effort.”
This help would include technical assistance and aspects related to the financing of a solution, and in terms of the UN Security Council of which the US is a permanent member along with France, Britain, China and the UK.
Kasoulides said the Security Council should undertake and supervise the implementation of the solution including the timing of the withdrawal of Turkish troops, and the timing of return to land the Greek Cypriot constituent state.
On guarantees and security, Kasoulides said the topic was high on the agenda of meetings with Lavrov and with Kerry. Turkey wants its guarantee to remain in place and has set this as a red line for the negotiations.
Regarding the refusal Akinci to meet with Lavrov because the latter would not cross to the north, Kasoulides said the Turkish Cypriot leader was wrong in his stance in that it was any foreign power’s right to follow its own policies.
And despite the fact that Kerry crossed to the north and the government came under heavy fire from the opposition for not protesting, Kasoulides said: “We did not want to make the same mistake as Mr Akinci – who in my view lost out – because if we had said we did not want Mr Kerry to go and see Mr Akinci, Mr Kerry would not have come and we would all lose.”
He said the policies of the past were evident in the case of former UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw whom the late president Tassos Papadopoulos had refused to meet because he was slated to meet the late Rauf Denktash. This had resulted in the Greek Cypriot side making an enemy who is now a proponent of partition, Kasoulides said.
“Hence the cabinet decision that under conditions including the absence of symbols etc, visits could take place to the leader of the Turkish Cypriot community,” he said.