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Cyprus Cyprus Talks

Parties briefed at National Council, most negative (Updated)

Separate National Council sessions will be held on each chapter discussed at the Cyprus negotiations, after President Nicos Anastasiades returns from New York later this month for the United Nations’ general assembly, government spokesman Nicos Christodoulides said on Wednesday.

He was speaking following a National Council session, in which Anastasiades briefed the party leaders.

At the session, which was the first featuring the body’s new composition as only party leaders and former presidents Demetris Christofias and Giorgos Vassiliou sat in, Anastasiades listed the convergences achieved with Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci thus far, as well as the points on which there is no agreement yet.

Anastasiades presented a 53-page document listing convergences and divergences, which he read out to party leaders, asking for their input.

The meeting lasted about three hours and was reportedly held in a good climate, following Tuesday’s tumultuous session, which saw Diko leader Nicolas Papadopoulos, as well as Edek’s Marinos Sizopoulos, walk out of party leaders meeting with Anastasiades on domestic issues.

“I gave a clear picture,” Anastasiades told the press after the meeting. “Some must realise that they have no more privileges than others,” he added cryptically.

Christodoulides explained that, according to the UN, 103 issues remain to be resolved before a solution can be reached but these were separate to those on the negotiating table.

“For instance, on the first day of a solution, territory will be returned that could possibly contain landmines, which need to be removed,” he said.

“Also, a constitution needs to be drafted.”

There is a substantial number of divergences, but also significant convergences, the spokesman added.

After the council session, Akel leader Andros Kyprianou said an “informative analysis” was presented, and that progress has been made.

“The effort must continue,” he said.

“There is no cause for alarm; the president has not crossed any red lines. There is no need for tension between us.”

Diko’s Papadopoulos said this session, too, was “unproductive”, and that the president should not commit to anything in New York without consulting with the National Council first.

“The optimistic picture painted by the president is unjustified,” he said.

“The negotiations are being held on issues we make concessions on.”

Edek’s Sizopoulos said Anastasiades shared some new information, but the party still has reservations on issues like deadlock-breaking mechanisms and the operation of the legislative body.

Citizens’ Alliance chief Yiorgos Lillikas said his party has concerns, which it will “voice when the time comes”, but repeated the opposition parties’ complaints of being left in the dark.

“There is significant distance on serious issues,” he said.

“I can’t see how a solution can be reached by year’s end.”

Anastasiades pledged that, upon his return from New York, where he will travel later this month for the UN general assembly and a tripartite meeting with Akinci and Ban on September 25, he will hold separate National Council sessions for each chapter of the negotiations.

Meanwhile, despite Anastasiades’ pledge that United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will not be endowed with arbitration powers in his upcoming personal involvement in the next phase of the Cyprus problem negotiations, nor is there a timeline for a solution, opposition parties on Wednesday said these were the only logical conclusions that could be drawn from the two leaders’ statement.

In an earlier statement, Diko said Anastasiades “locked” the Greek Cypriot side’s concessions thus far but failed to extract any from Turkey, and accepted a year-end deadline for a solution.

“It is crystal clear through this joint statement that President Anastasiades, unfortunately, has accepted a timeline ending on December 31, 2016, and has accepted to ‘lock’ all the concessions he and Mr Christofias made over the last eight years, in exchange only for the hope that Turkey might graduate from brainstorming to some concessions,” spokesman Athos Antoniades said.

The Green Party complained that the “known differences” were announced, but not “how they will be solved”.

“Is this why the UN Secretary-General has been asked to increase his personal involvement in the talks’ progress?”

“If this does not mean arbitration, then what else can it be?”

The Solidarity Movement said that committing to a solution by year-end is an “asphyxiating timeline”.

“We hope the reference to more active involvement by the UN secretary-general in the process does not constitute arbitration,” spokesman Yiannis Selinopoulos said.

“The Secretary-General’s mandate does not include tabling proposals and mediating, nor will we allow this to happen.”

Far-right Elam said it opposed a “tripartite” meeting between Anastasiades, Akinci, and Ban, scheduled for September 25, since “such moves result in our own downgrading and criminally offer statehood to the occupation regime”.

“The president should, at last, realise that he is not the leader of the Greek Cypriot side,” the party said.

“The people voted him president, not a community leader. At last, he must stop being a toy at the hands of every Mustafa.”

Amid all the negativity, ruling Disy said Anastasiades has pledged to inform the public directly on progress upon his return from the UN general assembly in the United States later this month.

“We hope that conditions of political calmness and level-headedness will prevail, so that we can focus on the common principles we hold as the Greek Cypriot side, especially at this crucial juncture of the negotiations,” spokesman Prodromos Prodromou said.

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