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Schulz says Cyprus settlement talks should conclude as soon as possible

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan (R) meets with European Parliament President Martin Schulz at the Presidential Palace in Ankara

Efforts to solve the Cyprus problem should conclude as soon as possible and the European Union should contribute funds to the island’s reunification, President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz was quoted as saying by German newspaper Rheinische Post on Saturday.

“For the first time, Ankara has shown an honest disposition to settle the Cyprus problem between Greece and Turkey,” Schulz said he realised during his visit to the Turkish capital earlier this week.

During the visit, Schulz met with various Turkish officials, including President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Prime Minister Binali Yildirim.

He added that the negotiators of both sides have expressed optimism on the issue of reunification.

“Therefore, an important development needs to lead to the conclusion of the process as soon as possible,” Schulz said.

“A solution to the Cyprus problem would be a great message in a time of difficult European crises.”

The president of the Europarliament called on the European Union to pitch in to the cost of a solution.

“In the end, the EU must acknowledge and define its contribution to the finances of reunification, for instance on how to compensate the properties that were expropriated [in the occupied areas],” he said.

Ongoing talks between Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci, facilitated by UN envoy Espen Barth-Eide, have entered a phase of ‘intensive’ talks, with eight tete-a-tetes crammed into a period of 21 days.

These follow regular talks between the two sides since May 2015.

On September 14, the day of the final meeting, the two leaders will issue a joint statement detailing progress and the way forward.

A meeting with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is expected to follow the intensive phase, although Anastasiades has noted that this would be incumbent on sufficient progress being achieved.

Talks have thus far focused on domestic issues, including properties and governance, with the thornier of issues involving Cyprus’ three guarantor countries – Greece, Turkey, and the United Kingdom – have been left for last.

The issue of territory – following the 1974 invasion, Turkey controls the northern part of Cyprus – has also only been touched upon by the two leaders unofficially.

A crucial five-party summit, between the three guarantor powers and the two leaders, has been proposed repeatedly by Akinci and Turkey, with Anastasiades replying it can only be held if a solution is within reach.

At such a meeting, the parties would seek to iron out the final details of a deal before it is brought back to the island for simultaneous separate referendums in the Greek- and Turkish-Cypriot communities.

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