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Domestic strife grows ahead of Swiss talks

The National Council meeting on Sunday

THE political football over the upcoming Cyprus talks in Switzerland went into the second half on Monday, the parties taking their cue from the National Council session a day earlier where President Nicos Anastasiades announced he would not be taking them to Mont Pelerin.

Bar Akel, opposition parties rounded on Anastasiades for his decision not to be accompanied by the leaders of the political parties at Mont Pelerin, where it’s understood talks will be held chiefly on the territory chapter of the Cyprus issue.

Critics contend that Anastasiades has been backed into a corner, with the parties warning that, once in Switzerland, he would be forced into a give-and-take between territorial adjustments in a federated Cyprus, and other aspects of a settlement agreement, such as security and guarantees.

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.

In a statement on Monday, Diko cited media reports claiming the president has made concessions on territory even before heading out to Switzerland.

According to the news reports, the president has proposed that certain contested areas come under federal jurisdiction rather than under Greek Cypriot administration.

More alarmingly, Diko said, it appears Anastasiades has agreed to discuss only the criteria for territorial readjustments, and that in Switzerland there will be no exchange of maps between the two sides.
“Along with the rest of the Greek Cypriots, we are stunned to discover that the concessions by the president and the parties backing him, have begun even before the talks in Switzerland.

“Just consider what is in store for us there [at Mont Pelerin],” Diko said.
Likewise the Citizens Alliance asserted that the president has been hoodwinked into going along with Turkey’s road map for a settlement.

It appears, the party said, that in Switzerland no concrete negotiations would be taking place on the territories to be returned to the Greek Cypriots.

Rather, the talks would be limited to discussing the criteria governing territorial readjustments.

“In this way, the Turkish side will waste time [in Switzerland], only to later claim that the territory chapter has been closed. Next they will argue that either in November or early December we must proceed to the next stage, a five-way conference [discussing security and guarantees],” the Citizens Alliance said.

The party accused the president of lacking a clear strategy and of being “self-deluded.”

Hitting back, Averof Neophytou, leader of the ruling Disy party, suggested the opposition was being disingenuous.

“Some three weeks ago, the president sounded out the parties as to whether they wanted to accompany him [to Switzerland], but at the time they said they did not want to.

“But yesterday [Sunday], when he announced that he would be going alone, they changed their mind and now wish to accompany him.”

He went on to describe the opposition parties as “the permanent protesters.”

Neophytou said none of the opposition parties drew attention to the positive talking points, focusing only on the negative.

A major positive, he added, was that the territory talks in Switzerland will reveal whether the Turkish side is sincere about an overall settlement.

The government has been at pains to rule out an interim agreement at Mont Pelerin, insisting that the talks process cannot advance further unless a deal is reached on the territory aspect.

The negotiations in Switzerland will take place from November 7 to 11.

Accompanying the president will be his negotiating team as well as a number of aides.

According to Phileleftheros, during Sunday’s meeting of the National Council, the president was asked specifically which of his advisors would be travelling with him.

He reportedly cited Kypros Chrysostomides, Polis Polyviou and Toumazos Tselepis, as well as the director of the department of lands and surveys and the head of the town planning and housing department.

When asked why he was not also taking Christos Triantafyllides and Nicos Kleanthous, the president is said to have snapped back: “I am taking advisors, not informants.”

A lawyer by profession, Triantafyllides is head of Disy’s ‘Cyprus problem committee’ and also serves as an advisor to the president in the negotiations.



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