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‘We’re tired of Cyprus as a problem’

President Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci will be meet again in the second half of February

The July 15 coup attempt in Turkey could actually be a further push for a settlement of the Cyprus problem as a way for the country to restore relations with the EU and the US, Politico magazine reported.

In an article published in Politico – Europe Version – titled Erdogan shadow over Cyprus peace bid, Turkey’s ambassador to the EU Selim Yenel, was quoted as saying that a settlement of the Cyprus problem is feasible and that his country is committed to this.

“It’s very important for us to have a deal. We’re tired of Cyprus as a problem,” Yenel said. “We know that, if we don’t have a deal on Cyprus, we will not be able to move on the accession process [to the EU]”.

The harsh crackdown measures the Turkish government introduced right after the coup, the arrests of thousands of soldiers and military personnel and civilians including journalists and academics believed to be followers of the cleric Fethullah Gulen, who Ankara believes is the mastermind of the attempt to oust president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has brought tension in its relations with the EU and the US. EU officials have warned Turkey that should it re-introduce the death penalty, it will not be able to become an EU member state and accession talks would be suspended.

According to Politico, “the fallout from Turkey’s failed coup is changing the political dynamic of the current talks on the reunification of Cyprus”.

Analysing a ‘good case scenario’, Politico argues that Erdogan is straining relations with the West over his far-reaching crackdown in the wake of the coup attempt and that “a deal on Cyprus could be his olive branch to Brussels and Washington, a diplomatic win amid the domestic unrest”.

“The solution is out there, it’s still doable,” Yenel said. “Turkey is committed, the Turkish Cypriots are committed, even the Greek Cypriots are committed — I’ll say that much.”

The ‘bad case scenario’, Politico said, “ranges from an Erdogan distracted at home and unable to focus on Cyprus to one looking to export his political revolution to the island”.

There is also concern, it said, that Erdogan’s response to the failed coup may put Turkey’s negotiations to join the EU on hold, eliminating a strong incentive to support Cypriot reunification.

Following the coup attempt, Cyprus officials of have been reiterating that it is not possible for Turkey to a have a role in security and guarantees of a settlement agreement.

President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci last week held their first discussions on territory, security and guarantees. The last time the issues were discussed at the negotiating table was in 2004. After a summer break, the leaders are expected to meet eight more times over the coming weeks, dedicating part of their discussions to these issues.

Anastasiades said last week, after his meeting with Akinci, that they had a creative meeting but they had a long way to go due to the outstanding differences. He also assured that they had the will to address the problems that raise concerns for both sides.

Akinci had warned last month that this round of negotiations could be the last opportunity to reach a settlement, as next year the election campaign will begin for the 2018 presidential elections in Cyprus as well as drilling for natural gas, which could trigger new tensions if a solution is not reached by then.

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