The chapter on the power of the constituent states to conclude international treaties was closed “in substance” during talks between the leaders on Wednesday, President Nicos Anastasiades said.
Speaking to reporters after his return to the presidential palace from his second meeting this week with Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci, Anastasiades said the two had discussed external relations of the federal state, and the powers of the constituent states to conclude international treaties.
“There remains some issues to be discussed in detail between the negotiators on external relations,” he said. “Regarding the power of the constituent states to conclude international treaties, I must say that this is in essence a closed chapter based on what is followed in all federated states.”
Anastasiades said the leaders would continue on Friday where they would discuss governance and economic issues.
“In this way we will try to bridge the many existing differences, as recorded,” he added.
Anastasiades and Akinci are to meet up to ten times in October to try and bridge gaps on chapters where there has been extensive progress before tackling the core issues of property, territory, security and guarantees.
Asked about the strong reactions of rejectionist parties to the existence of a “road map”, he said: “What matters is not the process, it is the essence.
“There are no strict schedules, there is no arbitration. We have just drawn up a dialogue in order to overcome difficulties,” he said. “At some point we must decide if we are talking to solve the Cyprus issue or just to talking in perpetuity.”
He said what the leaders had agreed is that they would intensify negotiations in October with an eye on progress on the issues other than the core topics and to see “if and when there will be such conditions that allow us to move to the issue of security and guarantees”.
“It is a programme, not a tight schedule that would lead to any arbitration, which is neither on the table nor would be it accepted,” he said.
Referring to the keenness of Akinci to discuss the territory and property outside of Cyprus, Anastasiades said this was to avoid leaks that could damage the entire climate. He made it clear however that no such meeting has been planned as yet.
Asked what conditions should exist that would be conducive to holding a multi-party conference on guarantees, he said everything else would need to be completed to such an extent that it would be possible. This did not imply any sort of ‘interim’ deal as nothing is agreed until everything is agreed.
“If it’s not preceded by satisfactory progress how can I go and discuss the international issue of security and guarantees?” he said.
Both sides have a different view on the two issues with the Turkish Cypriots wanting to maintain some form of Turkish guarantee. Another red line that has not been resolved in the governance chapter is the rotating presidency, which Anastasiades said was not discussed on Wednesday. He is due to brief the National Council on Thursday.
Meanwhile, Akinci was quoted on Wednesday as saying the aim was to have a referendum in mid-2017 after sealing a deal by the end of this year.
He said territory, which is linked to property would be discussed outside Cyprus in the first week of November “if everything goes as planned”. He also did not want this to be put on hold due to some small or technical issues that might still be outstanding, he said.
Akinci said the leaders would meet on October 14, 16, 17, 24, 26 and 31.
Like Anastasiades, he said the goal was to minimise the differences on four chapters – the non-core issues – during these meetings.