Cyprus Mail
Cyprus Talks

President briefs party leaders on developments (Updated with party comments)

President Nicos Anastasiades convened a National Council meeting on Thursday to brief party leaders of the latest developments in the ongoing negotiations and exchange views following his meetings in New York last week.

Speaking to reporters after his first meeting with Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci following their joint meeting with United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in New York, Anastasiades said that if sufficient progress was observed in the new round of intensive negotiations, which started on Tuesday, the talks will graduate to another level, in which discussion of the issue of territorial adjustments will be addressed in meetings at an undetermined location outside of Cyprus.

This next stage in the talks may be held in a third country, he added, due to Akinci’s reservations and concerns of leaks.

If that is the case, he pointed out that he would be accompanied by the members of the National Council, the top advisory body on the Cyprus issue, comprising party leaders.

“The President briefed party leaders and all questions were answered,” said government spokesman Nicos Christodoulides.

With regard to Akinci’s demand that the issue of territory be discussed out of Cyprus, Christodoulides said it would “certainly have been preferable to hold the talks in Cyprus”

“But our concern is substance,” he added.

“And the substance is that the issue of territory will finally be addressed. All this time, everyone has been saying that we need to talk about territory. Now that the time to talk has come, I believe we should look at the need to talk about this crucial issue, with maps and names.”

As expected, ruling Disy leader Averof Neophytou praised Anastasiades’ handling of the talks and said he would be happy and “nationally obliged” to attend an overseas meeting.

“If it is finally decided that discussion of the territory issue is to be held abroad – I said it yesterday, and I say it again today – we support the President in his effort to break the impasse, and if we are called to accompany him, we will meet our national obligation and attend,” he said.

But although none of the party leaders has declined Anastasiades’ call to join him in the negotiations abroad, most were suspicious of the reason.

“We were briefed by the President on the latest developments, and we had the opportunity to ask many questions, not only on what has been discussed thus far, but also on how he plans to handle certain issues,” Akel leader Andros Kyprianou said.

“I don’t see why negotiations on territory need to be held abroad, as the discussion can be held in Cyprus. But if there is insistence on taking the talks outside Cyprus, we have no problem accompanying the President, as long as no one attempts to apply pressure or impose views.”

Surprisingly conciliatory, Edek leader Marinos Sizopoulos said it had been one of the “most productive” and “best” National Council sessions.

“The climate was calm, the president briefed us on his New York contacts and his two meetings with Akinci, he answered our questions, and addressed some of the challenges ahead,” he said.

The Citizens’ Alliance chief Giorgos Lillikas was also happy about the meeting, but asked for more consultations.

The Greens’ Giorgos Perdikis complained that this was yet another briefing session, as opposed to a productive dialogue, and argued against discussion of territory overseas.

“We believe there is no need to move the talks abroad,” he said.

“It has never worked well for the Cypriot people, and it must be avoided.”

Diko’s Nicolas Papadopoulos was perhaps most critical, saying none of the party’s concerns were allayed.

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