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Cyprus

Cyprus settlement close but still far, says AKEL leader (Update)

By George Psyllides

A CYPRUS settlement was still very far, AKEL leader Andros Kyprianou said on Friday, as he prepares for a meeting with Turkish Foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu later this month.

“We are close, but we are also very far,” Kyprianou said after a meeting with President Nicos Aanstasiades in the morning. “There are unresolved important issues and each one alone could be the reason for failure to come to an agreement.

Kyprianou exchanged views with the president on how to handle the meeting with Cavusoglu in Constantinople on January 23.

“We assured the president that we will convey the positions of the national council,” Kyprianou said.

On Thursday, the AKEL leader will also meet with Greek Foreign minister Nicos Kotzias.

“I consider a briefing from him about the discussions he has with his Turkish counterpart useful,” he said.

Kyprianou added that he did not have anything in writing to give Cavusoglu. The effort, he said, was to discuss all outstanding issues.

“I don’t know the intentions of the Turkish foreign minister,” he said.

Kyprianou warned against overly optimistic statements, which he considered a big mistake.

“We have a difficult, and I would say rough path to walk, and that is why I think the more we limit public statements the better.”

Government spokesman Nicos Christodoulides said the meeting between Anastasiades and Kyprianou was very productive.

The President briefed Kyprianou on the discussions at the talks, with a view to send very concrete messages to Turkey. He added that everyone agrees on Turkey’s decisive role in efforts to settle the Cyprus problem.

Of a meeting in Switzerland between Anastasiades, Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci, and the UN Secretary-General, the spokesman said it was important because it would provide the opportunity for the president to brief Ban Ki-moon on the actual state of play in the ongoing talks.

“It is very important for the UN Secretary General to listen to all these from the President of the Republic himself,” he added.

The spokesman dismissed criticism from the opposition that the Davos meeting on January 21 would help upgrade the status of the breakaway state.

Akinci’s presence at the meeting would ensure that the messages conveyed by the president will not be interpreted as an attempt to play the blame game, he noted, something which according to Christodoulides, must be avoided in the dialogue.

Opposition DIKO insisted, however, that the government was continuously creating opportunities that upgraded Akinci and downgraded the Republic of Cyprus.

Instead of the president using his presence in Davos to promote the economy, he opted for the political upgrading of Akinci and the breakaway state, the party said.

“President Anastasiades no longer convinces anyone. After the blackout and the secret diplomacy we moved onto secret agreements, like the one of the Davos meeting.”

On a more positive note, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker voiced optimism about the prospects of reunification.

“I am very optimistic that in the first half of this year we will have a final agreement for the reunification of the island, I hope, because I like Cypriots a lot,” he said.

“There are very industrious, smart, and educated people on both sides of the island.”



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