By George Psyllides
The leaders of the island’s divided communities will hold on Thursday their first meeting of 2016 which according to observers and the main players, could be the year of the island’s reunification.
“Without intending to create unrealistic expectations, I believe that 2016 could be the year that will end the unacceptable existing situation, with our liberation from the occupation, and the reunification of our homeland,” President Nicos Anastasiades said in his New Year message.
Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci are scheduled to meet on January 7, 14 and 29, as they try to bridge the differences between the two sides.
“The dialogue up to now, which has covered all chapters related to the Cyprus problem, is marked by common understanding in many issues and also by differences in significant other issues,” Anastasiades has said.
Overall, the climate in the talks has been a good one following Akinci’s election in April 2015.
United Nations Special Adviser Espen Barth Eide could seek to hold proximity talks, including Turkey, Greece, and Britain – the island’s guarantors — on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland at the end of the month.
The government had said it “would be premature and not in the least helpful” to hold a guarantors’ meeting at this point.
“Any ideas or thoughts of the like which … the government has not been appraised of, would only serve to create problems for the ongoing talk,” government spokesman Nicos Christodoulides said. It was forced to make the statement after speculation in the media that Eide planned to bring the five parties together unofficially at the Davos forum.
Anastasiades will be attending, as will Akinci.
“There was nothing secret about it. The invitation was also extended to Mr Anastasiades, but it has nothing to do with transferring [to another venue] the Cyprus talks or holding a five-way conference in Davos. No decision has been taken on this matter,” Akinci said.
Eide is scheduled to travel to Athens on Tuesday to meet Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias.
He will be briefing the UN Security Council on the developments at the end of the month.
The government spokesman was quoted by CyBC on Saturday as saying that January would be an important month for the talks during which the leaders would focus on the property issue.