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Greece-Turkey meeting still on the cards

Tsipras and Erdogan are expected to meet ahead of the conference in Geneva - file photo

Despite failure by Greek and Turkish Cypriot leaders to reach agreement in the Mont Pelerin talks in Switzerland news on Tuesday that a meeting between the Greek premier and the Turkish president has been set for next month to discuss the issues of security and guarantees could mean all is not lost just yet.

Against a backdrop of negativity, brought on by the two sides’ failure to reach agreement on territorial adjustments, the Greek government leaked that a meeting between prime minister Alexis Tsipras and Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan will take place on December 4 to discuss, among other issues, security and guarantees.

The meeting had been tentatively finalised during the hectic two days of talks at Mont Pelerin by the end of which the two sides expected to reach agreement thus paving the way for an international conference on Cyprus.

Tsipras had reportedly proposed the meeting early on, before the second round of talks in Switzerland, in order for preparatory talks to be held before calling for a meeting and had been expecting a response, which came on Monday.

But state broadcaster CyBC’s correspondent in Turkey, citing unnamed Turkish officials, reported that the meeting had been agreed to on the understanding that the Cyprus talks would have moved forward in Switzerland and that it is not clear whether it is still on following Monday’s developments.

Turkish daily Haberturk reported that Tsipras is expected to visit Ankara on December 4 to discuss the Cyprus problem with Erdogan.

According to the paper, although no official announcements have been made yet, the meeting is expected to go ahead.

A meeting between Tsipras and Erdogan following the shock of the Switzerland talks being declared fruitless by the United Nations – who, rather ominously, remained silent on the way forward – would suggest that neither side wishes to see the talks fall apart completely.

Later on Tuesday, Greek foreign minister Nicos Kotzias – thought to be the architect of Greece’s tactical hardline stance on the multi-party conference – had a telephone conversation with UN special adviser Espen Barth Eide.

According to a Greek foreign ministry statement, Kotzias stressed Greece’s desire for a settlement and support for the continuation of the process.

“The goal of the negotiations must be to find a just and viable solution to the problem, based on the principles Greece described from the beginning,” Kotzias said.

Meanwhile, the first reaction from international players following Monday’s impasse came in the form of a tweet by president of the European parliament Martin Schulz, who called for the continuation of talks.

“A solution for all Cypriots is within reach,” Schulz tweeted.

“I call on both sides to continue Cyprus reunification talks with more good resolve than ever.”

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