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‘Further progress’ made in leaders’ meeting (updated)

Further progress has been achieved on the chapter concerning governance, President Nicos Anastasiades said on Saturday following his seventh meeting with Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci in the framework of the intensified talks under the auspices of the UN.

The meeting, which began at around 10am lasted around three hours. This is an additional meeting the two leaders decided on during a previous meeting in September, thus extending the duration of the talks by increasing the number of their meetings from seven to eight.

Returning to the Presidential Palace, the president said that further progress was made on outstanding issues regarding the issue of governance.

“We expect that on the 14th (September), through the estimates of results to date, that we will have moved to further planning to achieve convergences on all outstanding issues,” the president said.

He also said that he is “always cautiously optimistic because there are difficult issues that need to be looked into, to be overcome”.

The president refrained from commenting further following the agreement between the two leaders that there would be no statements until the final meeting on September 14, whereby they will make a joint announcement on what has been discussed.

When announcing the additional meeting, Anastasiades had said they would discuss outstanding issues in depth, which are not related to guarantees and territory chapters.

Akinci had announced earlier in the week that a meeting between him, Anastasiades and United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon would take place on September 26.

Following Saturday’s meeting Akinci said that there was “slight progress” and convergences have been achieved.

In next week’s final meeting, he said, they will continue discussion on governance and address some disagreements on property but that the aim of that day is to prepare a joint statement.

He said that optimism, albeit cautious was “useful”.

“There is a common goal and I now believe that this objective, which is to finally bring peace to this island until the end of time, is taking shape,” Akinci said.

He added that what is expected from the Greek Cypriot side is to “continue this process within realistic frameworks”. If that is achieved, he said, he could not see why there shouldn’t be a settlement agreement.

He added that convergences are increasing, but there are still serious disagreements, while important points in issues concerning property and rotating presidency remain unresolved.

This is however, he said, the most advanced stage in negotiations Cypriots have ever achieved by themselves, through the two sides’ negotiating teams.

Commenting on the Turkish Cypriot side’s decision to implement the Turkish government`s decision to stick to summer time all year round come October 30 when clocks should turn back one hour to daylight saving time, Akinci said that it was necessary.

“If you ask me I surely do not wish for different time zones on our island,” Akinci said. It was deemed as necessary though, he said, to avoid problems with flight schedules, as in the north airplanes arrive only through Turkey. Another reason was to also avoid a change in the rules of the market and an effect on the financial sector.

He added that the north is not a Turkish district and that this decision was taken purely for practical reasons and dismissed arguments linking this with political criteria.

The way out is a solution of the settlement agreement so that they could “rid” themselves from “unnatural things like this,” Akinci said.

Speaking in Athens on Friday, during a brief conversation he had with his Greek counterpart Prokopis Pavlopoulos, Anastasiades ruled out any notion of having guarantees for a federal Cyprus the island’s two communities are seeking to establish through the UN-led peace talks.

The president said that the issues of a single international personality, single citizenship and single sovereignty, as well as the fundamental freedoms under the European acquis, have been secured in the convergences reached at the negotiating table. He added that there are chapters in which significant progress has been made, but there are also some other equally important chapters in which differences remain and on which the two sides have exchanged views. These include the issue of territory and the issue of guarantees.

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