President Nicos Anastasiades said on Tuesday that talks to reunify the island have reached a critical stage, as he urged all the parties involved to positively engage in a bid to reach a settlement as soon as possible.
In his speech at the Stelios Bi-communal Awards, Anastasiades said a settlement must create a win-win situation for all Cypriots.
“As regards the current state of play in the negotiations, we have now reached a critical stage at which we expect all relevant interested parties and stakeholders to engage constructively and proceed with concrete and tangible steps, which will positively reinforce the negotiating process and our efforts of reaching a settlement as soon as possible.”
The president added that a settlement must be viable and functional, and address the sensitivities and concerns of both communities.
It must also ensure mutual respect, peaceful co-existence, and prosperous collaboration between all its citizens, irrespective of ethnic, cultural and religious backgrounds.
Speaking on the sidelines, the president reiterated that everyone should get involved, without exception, because it was an opportunity to resolve the second longest standing problem faced by the UN.
“The involvement of all those countries, especially the members of the (UN) Security Council, which can contribute, is welcome, appreciated, and necessary,” he said.
Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci will meet from November 7 to 11 at a location outside Cyprus to discuss territorial adjustments.
“It will likely be in Switzerland,” Anastasiades told reporters on Monday. In separate comments, Akinci said the talks would take place in Geneva.
Territorial adjustments are an integral part of any deal to unite Cyprus as a federation with two semi-autonomous zones – one Greek and one Turkish Cypriot.
The leaders opted to travel abroad for those talks to prevent potentially damaging leaks.
Territory however, is not the only sticking point between the two sides.
There is also the matter of the 1960s security and guarantees, which the Greek Cypriot side want scrapped. Any plan including guarantees from Turkey, as is the current system, would probably be rejected by Greek Cypriot voters.
But Turkish Cypriots insist on the matter, citing what they went through in 1960 and 1974. On Monday, Akinci said the aim at the time was to destroy the status of Turkish Cypriots, stemming from the 1960 constitution.
Because of those experiences, the Turks of Cyprus want Turkey’s guarantees, he said, adding that they could be reviewed when the time came.
Meanwhile, a report in the Financial Times on Tuesday claimed that in the upcoming talks on territory in Switzerland Anastasiades “will come under pressure to make concessions over the return of the former agricultural district of Morphou”, the unconditional return of which under Greek Cypriot administration has been deemed a ‘red line’.
Akinci, on the other hand, will argue that the district is “too heavily populated by Turkish Cypriots” and suggest that the “barren peninsula of Karpas” in the island’s north-eastern tip, which “could be developed for tourism” is returned instead.