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Anastasiades: Differences remain on property, situation ‘complicated’ adds Akinci (Update)

The two leaders will meet later this morning, with one more metting scheduled before the end of the month

DESPITE some progress on the property issue, the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities continued to have substantive differences, President Nicos Anastasiades said on Friday.

Speaking after his meeting with Mustafa Akinci, Anastasiades said it was one of the most difficult chapters, while the Turkish Cypriot leader said that “the situation is complicated.”

“The meeting was held in a positive climate, I cannot say there was tension, despite our differences,” Anastasiades said. “Despite the progress observed on the property issue, substantive differences remain.”

The president said it had been decided that the owner had the first say but there were problems in a number of issues; who was entitled, who was excluded, how development of the property would be assessed whether it was substantial or not.

Anastasiades said settling the property issue was linked to territorial readjustments.

“The two are interconnected. If there is progress in the matters of principle, important matters in the property chapter, again they will be linked to territorial readjustments,” he said.

The president also commented on the National Council, whose function as an advisory body he questioned earlier this year after EDEK head Marinos Sizopoulos made public the confidential minutes of two meetings, saying the public had a right to the truth.

The move prompted Anastasiades to rethink a promise to allow documents from the talks to be circulated at meetings and in the meantime he would brief party leaders separately.

The president had announced that he would be informing party leaders of his decisions on the matter right after the parliamentary elections.

On Friday, Anastasiades said he intended to send parties a proposal concerning the composition of the National Council and conditions of its operation.

“I will subsequently convene the National Council provided the leaders of the parties accept some fundamental issues,” he said.

Asked if his proposal entailed some sort of confidentiality agreement, the president said it included an honour protocol.

“Party leaders will be able to express the positions they stand for but not those of others or what is discussed at the National Council or to publish documents,” he said. “This is essential or else it (council) cannot function in a constructive way.”

The council should not be the source of propaganda or used to undermine other parties, he added.

Turkish Cypriot leader Akinci also commented on Friday’s meeting, agreeing that property is one of the most difficult issues.

“42 years later, the situation is complicated,” he said. “If you count from 1963 it is 53 years, if you count since 1974 it is 42, but this is really one of the most complex issues.”

He added that this month there will still be five meetings, on July 8, 12, 22, 26 and 29 to discuss specific issues.

“Today, we worked hard on some points on which we disagree. I cannot say that we covered quite a distance, we are not in a position to say that we eliminated all disputes. It is evident that regarding this difficult matter (property) we need to work more.”

According to Akinci, during their meeting on July 8, the two leaders will discuss issues such as citizenship and legal rights.

Akinci also talked about the importance of reaching a solution in 2016. Developments in the region show the need for this, he said, citing the example of the rapprochement between Turkey and Israel regarding natural gas.

“The quickest, most logical and most inexpensive way to get the gas from Israel and Cyprus to Europe is via Turkey,” the Turkish Cypriot leader commented, “if we solve the Cyprus problem, all this will make more sense, can best be implemented, it will be more practical and all sides will be able to benefit much more. If we do not solve the Cyprus problem, if it cannot be solved, we are likely to remain outside the energy equation and this is not a matter only for Turkish Cypriots, but also for Greek Cypriots.”


Additional reporting by Annette Chrysostomou

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