The leaders of the divided Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities on Friday reaffirmed their differences over territory and post-reunification security but also the will to overcome them through dialogue.
“The differences were identified, but also the will to overcome them through creative dialogue,” President Nicos Anastasiades said after a meeting with Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci.
Friday’s meeting was the last one before a summer break. The two men discussed the sticking points of territory, security, and guarantees, which will be revisited during the eight meetings scheduled after the break.
“Of course, this will show in the end; it was the first meeting – I wouldn’t say the first dealing with the matter because views had been exchanged at times – but the first that dealt with the matter in-depth,” Anastasiades said.
He added that there was still some way to go but the two sides had the will to tackle the problems that raised concerns in both communities.
Anastasiades declined to comment on the details, arguing that it could affect the ongoing dialogue.
“We are talking about a very sensitive issue for both sides and we have said that special attention will be observed on what everyone is saying,” the president added.
He noted that the distance between the two sides could be reduced through dialogue and a “creative effort to overcome problems, concerns, and potential threats.”
Greek Cypriots want to scrap the existing system of guarantees, which Turkey used to invade the island. As part of the solution, they also want the Turkish army to leave the island. Greece, also a guarantor power, agrees that the system of guarantees must be scrapped.
The Greek Cypriot side accepts the gradual removal of the Turkish troops.
According to the Cyprus News Agency (CNA), the two sides have carried out significant preparatory work on the criteria regarding territory, which is related with the other thorny issue, property. The issue of property cannot be resolved as long as the chapter on territory remained open.
CNA said the aim was to secure the return of at least 100,000 refugees – registered number is 160,000 — under Greek Cypriot administration and religious sites that are especially important.
The Greek Cypriot side also wants to secure the island’s coast and connections to villages and communities.