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Cyprus Talks

Party leaders not going to attend Swiss talks (Update 4: adds party leaders)

The national council meeting on Sunday

The National Council, which met for five hours ahead of leaders’ talks in Switzerland, concluded just before 3pm on Sunday.

It was decided the party leaders would not accompany President Nicos Anastasiades to Mont Pelerin for his talks on territory with Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci.

CNA said that according to statements from the political party leaders, Anastasiades had expressed his personal wish that party leaders not to accompany him to Switzerland.

Akinci said during the week he would not be taking the Turkish Cypriot party leaders with him.

In statements after the National Council meeting, acting government spokesman Victoras Papadopoulos told reporters the president had held a detailed briefing for the party leaders of what had transpired at the talks since the last session of the council.
Positions, opinions and concerns, suggestions were expressed, he said.

The also discussed the upcoming Swiss talks on territory and what the attitude of the Greek Cypriot should be given different scenarios as to what might transpire there.

“After the exchange of views today, the president decided that he would not be accompanied by the National Council to Mont Pelerin, but only by his negotiating team members and their close associates,’ said Papadopoulos.

Asked if there was a possibility in Switzerland of the leaders discussing issues outside of territory such as guarantees, Papadopoulos said: “This is an issue that has been clarified in New York… the two issues will be discussed separately.”

Some other outstanding issues on other chapters would probably also be on the table, the acting spokesman said.

Speaking after the meeting, Akel leader Andros Kyprianou said the president’s decision not to take along the party leaders was respected.

There would be, he said, a sub-committee of the National Council that would meet in the coming week to discuss the territory issue in more depth prior to the president’s departure, where they hoped to reach greater consensus, particularly on territory.

“It will be very crucial meeting in Switzerland because it will determine further steps on the Cyprus issue. Either it will lead to a process that will help to provide further impetus to the efforts for a solution or it will lead to the sinking of the negotiations,” said Kyprianou.

“It is paramount our side goes there well prepared, ready to negotiate with determination and desire to reach convergence on the widest range of issues so as to pave the way to discuss the most difficult chapter which is the issue of security and guarantees.”

He said Akel had submitted its views to the president on how to negotiate the major issues and that the party had urged him not to enter a give-and-take process under any circumstances at this stage.

In response to a question, he said it was difficult to find complete consensus given that there were political parties that disagreed with the very notion of a bizonal, bicommunal federation. “Therefore there can be no common line.”

Edek’s Marinos Sizopoulos urged Anastasiades when he goes to Switzerland not to fall into any traps set by the Turkish side.

“The political leaders will not accompany the President to Switzerland. The negotiators will accompany him and we will be vigilant and we expect that if and when there is any progress, we expect the president to inform us,” he said.

Sizopoulos said Edek lodged “specific views and suggestions” at the meeting with view to helping the president avoid potential pitfalls. This was the role of the party leaders within the advisory body, and it was up to the president to use this advice in order to strengthen his positions and arguments at the negotiating table, he added.

Solidarity’s Eleni Theocharous said she was concerned that the Swiss talks would turn into negotiations on security and guarantees, and not just territory. Security and guarantees are supposed to be discussed at a five-party conference once the leaders have agreed on everything else.

“I still have the fear that the this [Swiss meeting] will turn into negotiations not just on territory but on security and guarantees in the way that Turkey is seeking,” she said.

Diko leader Nicolas Papadopoulos saw a subtle move by the Turkish side to connect the issue of territory with other chapters that he said should not be linked. Reports have been rife recently that Turkey would be willing to compromise on guarantees if the Greek Cypriots did not insist on the return of Morphou, which it has drawn as a red line.

There would be no meaningful reason to go to Switzerland if the Turkish side did not produce a map, Papadopoulos said.

“Some want to go to Switzerland and instead of asking Turkey what it will give us in terms of territory, they want to move to new concessions,” he said, adding that the Turkish side was doing everything it could to see that happen.

Diko, he said, had wished to go to Switzerland to support Anastasiades and help him “to cope with any pressure” but “unfortunately the president refused”.

“This period is critical and what is now required is national unity, not discord,” he added.

Citizens Alliance leader Giorgos Lillikas also described the Swiss meeting as critical whether it reached a positive result or an impasse, and hoped Anastasiades would not give into pressure. He too believes the party leaders should be there.

“Even in case of deadlock, we have no doubt that Turkey will move to the blame game and its contingent plan for annexation of the occupied areas,” Lillikas said.

“The international conditions under which this discussion is being held is bad for our side and favourable for the Turkish side,” he added.

Turkey would not be the one that would come under pressure from the US and EU because they were doing everything possible at the moment to salvage their own relations with Ankara.

“The president will be under unbearable pressures in these negotiations,” Lillikas added.

Greens leader Giorgos Perdikis said increasingly Cyprus was “sliding into a situation that resembled confederation”, while far-right Elam said a unitary state was the only solution to the Cyprus problem.

Disy leader Averof Neophytou said it was time to deal with the political situation with pragmatism. Though the National Council meeting heard the parties’ many concerns about the potential risks of the solution, he said they ignore the risks of a non-solution.

“We must be realistic,” he said, noting that four of the eight political parties participating in the National Council do not accept a bizonal bicommunal federation: Elam the Greens, Solidarity and Edek.

The Citizens Alliance, he said discusses the federation, but does not accept a bi-communal federation “so five of the eight parties disagree with the accepted form of a solution agreed under Makarios-Denktash and Kyprianou-Denktash” and UN resolutions that refer to the same.

“I want to believe the international community will take the correct positions and to fully understand the positions of the President of the Republic,” he added.

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