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Government denies opposition claims of timetables and UN arbitration

There was no question of timeframes, arbitration, or a multilateral meeting as part of the reunification negotiations, the government said on Thursday, as President Nicos Anastasiades prepared to travel to New York where he was scheduled to have a joint meeting with the UN secretary-general and the Turkish Cypriot leader on September 25.

A day after Anastasiades briefed party leaders about the intensive round of talks with Mustafa Akinci, the government reiterated that there was no issue over timeframes, arbitration by the United Nations, or a multilateral meeting – including guarantors UK, Turkey, and Greece.

“There is nothing,” government spokesman Nicos Christodoulides told state broadcaster CyBC.

He also sought to play down accusations by hardline parties that the president had made concessions while Turkish Cypriots gave up little to nothing on matters that were important to Greek Cypriots.

“The position of the Turkish Cypriot side on territory is to have very few territorial readjustments,” he said, adding that it was a matter on which there was no agreement between the two sides. “It is one of the issues that is under discussion together with security.”

Christodoulides noted, however, that it was the first time that these matters were being discussed in a negotiating procedure.

The spokesman said no discussion had been made about the composition of a multilateral conference because the talks had not reached that stage.

“But views were exchanged at the National Council yesterday (Wednesday) on what the composition should be if it goes ahead,” he said.

Ruling DISY chief Averof Neophytou accused hardline parties of trying to paint a picture of a president travelling to the UN to more or less sign a preliminary agreement on the Cyprus problem.

“I think that after yesterday’s briefing, even the most mistrustful person understood and understands that there is no such possibility,” Neophytou said during a news conference.

Neophytou said the president should be commended because, even though there had not been an in-depth discussion, it was the first time since 1960 that the issues of security and guarantees were being negotiated.

Prompted to respond to criticism that the president was under a lot of pressure from the US and the UK to agree to a settlement by the end of the year, Neophytou sought to turn the tables.

“To all those shouting today and creating a climate that we will go to New York and return with a luggage-full of arbitration, I want to remind you of one thing: it is with a different president (Tassos Papadopoulos) that the delegation returned with a suitcase-full of arbitration 12 years ago in February. Some modesty won’t do any harm.”

AKEL leader Andros Kyprianou suggested that the matter was entering a difficult phase that would be decisive for the future.

“There is progress in the talks, there are issues where there is a great distance between the positions of the two sides and it is certainly obvious that serious decisions are required,” he said.

The Greek Cypriot side, Kyprianou said, believed that the decisions ought to be taken by the Turkish side on the matters of security, property, territory “and there is of course the issue of the executive.”

The Turkish Cypriot side insists on having a rotating presidency, something opposed by Greek Cypriots.

“No one can say with certainty where things are being led to. It will transpire, in our view, after the return of the two leaders from New York and the continuation of the intensive negotiations.”

EDEK chairman Marinos Sizopoulos appeared satisfied over Wednesday’s briefing, which he said was among those with the “best climate”.

“The National Council should not be a stage for discord,” he said.

Sizopoulos said that based on the briefing, there had been little progress and few changes in the past year.

He said the euphoria displayed by various quarters was not justified “so we must be cautious as regards the reasons that possibly encourage it and what is possibly hiding behind this.”

“Let us not have any illusions,” he said, adding that the Anglo-Americans had set up traps for the Greek Cypriot side many times in the past.

“The president should be careful; there must be no binding document regarding the convergences because it could constitute an intermediate form of solution that will create additional problems and difficulties,” he said.

He also cautioned against a roadmap that could eventually lead to a five-party or multilateral conference.

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