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Leaders to make joint appeal in Davos

By Jean Christou

President Nicos Anastasiades departs on Wednesday for the World Economic Forum in Davos where he and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci will make a joint appeal to the world’s political and business elite to support efforts to reach a settlement to the Cyprus problem.

The two leaders will share the platform at a special session entitled Reuniting Cyprus.

This comes as it was confirmed yesterday that Cyprus is to set in motion the procedure for applying to make Turkish an official language of the EU as it is one of the two official languages of the Republic.

Government spokesman Nicos Christodoulides said Anastasiades, acting on his own initiative, has instructed bureaucrats to look into the procedure for an application to be filed to the EU.

The move is considered a good will gesture that Anastasiades thinks would positively contribute to efforts to reunify the island.

The paper said Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci has been informed by Anastasides of his intention.

With the Davos platform set for tomorrow, UN and European officials say the prospects of finally reaching a peace deal are better than at any time since Greek Cypriots rejected a UN peace plan in 2004.

“While the world is generally not in good shape, for Cyprus the stars are aligned,” said UN special envoy Espen Barth Eide.

“There’s an interest among the leaders involved. Both Turkey and Greece see advantages to moving on,” Eide told Reuters.

“We have gone from harvesting relatively low-hanging fruit into the hard core deepest areas. We’re in tougher terrain now and both leaders will have to make concessions,” Eide added.

Asked why prospects for a settlement were better now than in 2004, Eide said: “The one major difference is that this time the process is led by the Cypriots and their leaders. My role is to facilitate but we (United Nations) are not putting down our own proposals. Every word is written and agreed to by the sides.”

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu is due to address the Davos audience right after Cyprus’ leaders and is likely to reaffirm his country’s commitment to support a settlement this year, which would also remove an obstacle to closer EU ties.

Anastasiades will meet UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon and the leader of the Turkish Cypriot community with Akinci, who left for the Swiss destination on Tuesday.

Anastasiades will also have meetings with heads of state or government and other officials, as well as executives of international business giants.

Specifically, on Wednesday evening he will meet at 7pm local time with the Executive Director of Italian energy giant ENI, Claudio Descalzi and then will attend a dinner hosted by the founder of the Forum, Klaus Schwab.

At 11.45am local time on Thursday, Anastasiades will meet US Vice President Joe Biden and at 12.30pm local time the joint meeting with Ban and Akinci will take place.

On Thursday evening, Anastasiades will meet the President of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, Suma Chakrabarti.

Friday he will meet Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and also the same day, the Executive Director of French energy giant TOTAL, Patrick Pouyanné.

During the Forum, the President will also have the opportunity to carry out additional meetings, the palace said. Anastasiades will be accompanied by Government Spokesman Nicos Christodoulides and will return to Cyprus on January 23.

On Tuesday, Christodoulides said the Davos trip had three main goals, the Cyprus issue, energy and economy.

He again made it clear that there was no question of a five-party conference “or any other conference” on Cyprus during the Davos trip involving the guarantor powers, as suggested by the Turkish side.

“We cannot accept such a five-party conference. At some point in the talks, if we are close to a solution, and within an agreement, then yes, there should be a multilateral conference which will discuss the abolition of the existing system of guarantees without affecting in any way the legality of the Republic and Cypriot-owned nature of the talks.”

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