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Anastasiades meets Tsipras, as talks on territory set for November

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Territory and guarantees were on the agenda in a meeting between Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades and Greek Premier Alexis Tsipras on Wednesday night, as the date and location of reunification negotiations on territory appeared to have been agreed.

In Brussels on Wednesday, the Cypriot and Greek leaders met on the sidelines of a European Council summit, with Anastasiades briefing Tsipras on upcoming negotiations on territory, before discussing the issue guarantees.

The meeting lasted an hour and 45 minutes, well into the night.

As reported by the Cyprus News Agency, Anastasiades explained to Tsipras the importance of introducing the issue of territory in the ongoing negotiations.

The two agreed to keep in touch during the European Council summit, holding meetings with European leaders in a bid to convince them that an EU member state should not be subject to security guarantees by another country – as the Turkish Cypriot side is demanding some form of Turkish guarantees post-solution.

Meanwhile, the Greek and Turkish Cypriot sides have agreed that negotiations on territory will be held in Geneva, Switzerland, from November 7 to 11.

The talks will be held abroad at the insistence of Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci, who cited the need to avoid leaks.

The two sides have hinted at serious differences on territory, with Anastasiades drawing a line on the return of Morphou, an area north of Nicosia, without which he has said a deal is not possible. Akinci claims it would not be easy to return the area, which has been substantially developed in recent years.

Following a leaders’ meeting on Sunday, Anastasiades said he is hoping for “something better than the [2004] Annan plan” on territory.

It is understood that negotiations on territory – with specific area names and maps to be tabled – are a climactic moment of make-or-break proportion in the talks, on which success in the final stretch hinges.

The extent of territorial concessions – how much of the Turkish-occupied part of northern Cyprus is to be returned to the Greek Cypriot state – will also crucially impact the outcome of the issue of properties. The more displaced Greek Cypriots are allowed to return to their homes under Greek Cypriot administration, the less will need to be paid out as compensation for lost properties.

The date allows for a few additional sessions between Anastasiades and Akinci in Cyprus, ahead of the transfer of the talks in Switzerland.

Earlier, on November 4, the Cypriot president announced he would brief the public on progress in the talks, via a televised address.

Although Anastasiades had initially confirmed he would be asking party leaders to join him in the Geneva talks, he left the issue open on Monday, saying it would “depend on circumstances”.

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