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President briefs party leaders ahead of Swiss talks, hopes for further progress (Update 2)

Nothing that Anastasiades decided or agreed to is ever acceptable to the custodians of procedural correctness who are fixated on form rather than content.

President Nicos Anastasiades said Saturday he was determined to work towards a settlement of the island’s division, shortly before his departure for Switzerland for crucial talks with Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci.

“I am departing for Mont Pelerin with the same determination to work towards achieving further progress and why not, create conditions that will lead us to the final phase but also finding a solution at last,” the president said after individual meetings with party leaders earlier in the day.

Anastasiades said the meetings were particularly productive and discussions were creative. Any disagreements, he said, were within acceptable limits, and it gave him an opportunity to hear thoughts, concerns, and suggestions.

“I don’t disregard the worries of Cypriot Hellenism, which I represent in the talks, nor the views of the party leaders that I listened to,” the president said.

The president was scheduled to depart for Switzerland for two days of talks with Akinci in a bid to strike a deal on the thorny aspect of property.

The talks will be held at Mont Pelerin, where the two leaders engaged in five days of negotiations between November 7 and 11

Asked if the two sides were close to a deal, the president said he would have more to say on that on Tuesday.

Anastasiades on Saturday briefed party leaders about developments in the reunification talks ahead of his departure.

Speaking after his meeting with the president, Akel leader Andreas Kyprianou said he hoped more progress would be achieved in Switzerland so as to bring the two sides close to a deal.

“The important thing is for a deal to be within reach to be able to define the next stage, the next phase, which will be the international meeting,” Kyprianou said.

Kyprianou, whose party is expected to play a pivotal role in approving a deal, warned that failure to settle the problem “would not lead to stability, as some say, or that the Republic of Cyprus will be safeguarded; failure to resolve the Cyprus problem will be like being in quicksand that could go either way with severe consequences for Cyprus and the Cypriot people.”

The chairman of hardline Diko, Nicolas Papadopoulos, said it was wrong that the president did not consult the national council before leaving for the talks.

“In any case, we hope that the president will defend the interests of Cypriot Hellenism and the Republic itself, and return from Switzerland with substantive progress in the crucial issue of territory,” he said after his meeting with Anastasiades.

Papadopoulos said Greek Cypriots wanted a functional and viable solution to the problem and not one “that would allow Turkey to have an eternal influence and presence on this island.”

He said his party would support a right solution but it would also resist one that would give Turkey those rights.

Ruling Disy chief Averof Neophytou said he expected the two sides to submit several maps during the two-day talks provided there was agreement on the criteria.

He expressed hope that the two sides would come to an agreement, paving the way for a multilateral meeting.

“At that stage it would be judged if Turkey wants a solution of the Cyprus problem,” he said.

Neophytou said a deal in Switzerland would depend on whether there are convergences on the criteria and from then on it was expected that several maps would be exchanged.

On Friday, Anastasiades expressed the hope that a comprehensive proposal for the solution of the Cyprus problem would soon be ready to be brought before the people for approval.

Addressing the graduation ceremony of the Open University of Cyprus,  Anastasiades congratulated the students saying that what they needed was a country worthy of their hopes, adding that “this leads me to the first and ultimate goal, the solution of the Cyprus problem”.

In his speech, which was read out by Minister of Transport, Marios Demetriades, Anastasiades said it was high time to create conditions of security and cooperation, a homeland without occupation armies, where human rights and freedoms were safeguarded.

He expressed the hope “soon to be in a position to have tangible results for a comprehensive proposal for the solution of our national problem, which we will put before the citizens for approval”.

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