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Cyprus Cyprus Talks

Territory to be discussed in Mont Pelerin, Switzerland

DISCUSSIONS on territorial adjustments will take place in Mont Pelerin in Switzerland, President Nicos Anastasiades announced on Wednesday after a five-hour meeting with Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci.

The leaders, who began their meeting around 6.30pm, opted to travel abroad for those talks to prevent potentially damaging leaks. The issue will be discussed from November 7 to 11.

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.

“It was decided on the transfer to Switzerland, and more specifically to Monte Pelerin,” the president said. “The aim is to discuss the territory issue but also any other possible outstanding issues”.

Each leader, he said, will be accompanied by his negotiating team. He added that it will be decided on Sunday when he is to inform the National Council whether the political party leaders will follow him to Switzerland.

In an announcement, UNFICYP said that the two leaders “have decided to continue the Cyprus talks in Mont Pelerin, Switzerland from 7th to 11th November. This intensive week of negotiations will be conducted under the auspices of the Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Cyprus, Mr. Espen Barth Eide”.

“The meeting will concentrate on the chapter of territory as well as all other outstanding issues interdependently. The leaders expressed their hope that their meeting in Switzerland will pave the way for the last phase of the talks in line with their shared commitment to do their utmost in order to reach a settlement within 2016,” it said.

Since the leaders have completed their discussions in advance of the meeting in Switzerland, the announcement said, they have instructed the negotiators to meet instead of their own planned meeting on October 31.

“The two leaders wish to express their gratitude to the Government of Switzerland for its generosity in offering to host this event. The leaders will be accompanied in Switzerland by their negotiating teams and relevant subject matter experts”.

Mont Pèlerin is a mountain of the Swiss Prealps, overlooking Lake Geneva.

Prior to the meeting, Akinci told media in the north that they were to also discuss what happens next. After Switzerland, he said, the five-party meeting on guarantees should follow. This, he said, would be the best-case scenario.

He added that there were still differences of opinions on certain issues including what active participation means in decision making, but also on the rotating presidency.

The Greek Cypriot side is not clear whether it has accepted this, Akinci said, while he will not present to the Turkish Cypriots a settlement agreement that does not include rotating presidency.

These differences, he said, are not easily overcome as a state that was supposed to be shared, has become over the years a single state with a single community. This has become a “habit for 53 years” the Greek Cypriot side would not give up easily, Akinci said.

The Turkish Cypriot leader also said that the Greek Cypriot presidential elections in 2018 would  be a challenge.

“Anastasiades will have to decide one thing, he will either be the historic leader of his community or he will be one of the candidates of the 2018 presidential elections. I am not sure whether he made a clear decision on that one,” Akinci said.

“I have proved that what interests me is to see my country reunited and rid of the occupation army. I never took into consideration the presidential or other elections. I have proved that and I wouldn’t want to be doubted by Mr Akinci,” Anastasiades said on his return to the presidential palace.

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.

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