President Nicos Anastasiades said on Sunday his conversation late on Saturday with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had centred on the latter’s stated intention to be at the disposal of the two leaders should they need him.
Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of an event in Pissouri, Anastasiades said: “The conversation revolved around progress to date, but also the prospect of talks somewhere in Switzerland, which of course relates to one of the most important issues, territory, which is strongly related with the property.”
He said Ban offered to facilitate the leaders should they need it. “What remains to be seen is the good will of the other side,” Anastasiades added.
Asked whether a meeting had been finalised to discuss territory, the president said this would be announced in due course.
Ban also spoke with Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci earlier on Saturday.
Reports last week suggested dates between November 7-11, possibly in Geneva.The talks will be held abroad at the insistence of Akinci, who cited the need to avoid leaks.
Though the issue of territory has never been discussed before at the talks, the leaders are at odds over how to resolve it. The Greek Cypriot side is insisting that Morphou comes under the Greek Cypriot constituent state.
Akinci claims it would not be easy to return the area, which has been substantially developed in recent years. 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.
Anastasiades was speaking on Sunday during the unveiling of a monument in Pissouri to commemorate the October Riots of 1931.
On October 21, 1931 a crowd had gathered outside the Commercial Club in Nicosia to the news that members of the Legislative Council had resigned over the budget. Inside anti-colonial speeches were made that called for Enosis with Greece, which the growing crowd heard outside, and which sparked a demonstration calling on protesters to go to Government House.
There, the protesters broke through a police line and began throwing bricks at the building and torching vehicles. The fire quickly spread to the building. British police fired on the crowd injuring seven. Everyone scattered but the protests, despite a subsequent curfew were not over.
More trouble broke out in Larnaca, Famagusta, Kyrenia, Limassol, and Paphos and continued into early November. By the time they were all over, six people had died, 30 were injured, 2,000 protesters convicted. The ringleaders, including two bishops were deported to Malta. The British governor also summoned more troops from Egypt to restore law and order.
Referring to the Cyprus issue in his speech at the event, Anastasiades said he knows the concerns and worries of the Greek Cypriots and would fight to ensure they were safeguarded. At the same time he was making efforts to understand the concerns of the Turkish Cypriots.
“Those who suffer from the occupation are the Greek Cypriots,” he said. “It is they who are concerned about the presence of Turkish troops”. He repeated that neither troops nor guarantees were necessary under a solution.
“What we seek is to create a modern European state through the principles and values of Europe, through the safeguarding of human rights without exception,” he added.
“I hope that finally it will be understood by the other side and by that I mainly mean Turkey, that we are ready for peace that will benefit all and Greek and Turkish Cypriots, and Turkey and Europe, and more generally, the wider region.”