By Jean Christou
The two leaders will on Tuesday enter a new round of intensive negotiations the government spokesman described as “crucial” on Monday.
The first item however will be to set the agenda for the critical ‘seven meetings’ that will end on September 14, government spokesman Nicos Christodoulides told CyBC.
“As agreed by September 14 they will talk about issues from all of the six chapters that have not yet been thoroughly discussed or that have different approaches by the two sides,” he said. The six chapters are governance, economy, property, territory, guarantees and security
“This is a crucial phase for the negotiations, it is a continuation of the previous phase but more intensified and its results will determine how the whole process can evolve,” the spokesman added.
He said discussions might not reach “map level”, in reference to territory but they would probably include territorial criteria. Maps would only be brought into the picture during the final phase.
Christodoulides said there would also be substantive discussions between President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci on security and guarantees but made it clear that the Greek Cypriot side could not agree to Turkey being a guarantor.
“We believe that a continued guarantee role for Turkey and the stationing of Turkish troops [on the island] is not only bad for the Greek Cypriots – because we believe it will lead to a rejection of a settlement plan – but we consider that it will also be negative for the Turkish Cypriots,” the spokesman said.
But Akicni was quoted on Monday as saying: “It is absolutely necessary for us to secure Turkey’s guarantees in this negotiating process”.
He said Turkish Cypriots wanted the continuation of Turkey’s guarantees, given their past experiences. But he said, they should be reassured that unlike the past, and since 1974, Turkish Cypriots are no longer scattered but are in one place with their own police force.
“We will trust first ourselves and then Turkey. And we will make our institutions strong. After that, other than Turkey there is no one we could trust”.
Referring to the negotiations, Akinci said good progress had been achieved in four out of six chapters which gave hope for a solution.
But he said the sides could not discuss territorial adjustments in the current format. “Let us sit with the three guarantors. Let us search for a formula which will provide the security to the Turkish Cypriots in the best manner and distance the Greek Cypriots from the perception of a threat… we can end this, but I am not at the position of saying that we are this point right now,” he said.
Other topics that are ‘not quite there yet’ were property and the rotating presidency, Akinci said.
“It is not possible for the federal united Republic of Cyprus continuously being under the presidency of a Greek Cypriot only,” he added.
There was almost an agreement on the principle of the rotating presidency, but none yet on the period of time in office. Akinci said it should be ironed out within the seven meetings “so that we can enter into the issues of territory, security and guarantees”.
Christoulides, in his CyBC interview also mentioned that Anastasiades had spoken by phone with US Vice President Joe Biden for 25 minutes at the weekend. Biden is due in Turkey on August 24.
The spokesman also ruled out a joint meeting of the two leaders with UN chief Ban Ki-moon at the general assembly in New York next month, saying Anastasiades was going there as a head of state.