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Anastasiades says he does not want to play blame game, ready to continue negotiations (Update 3)

President Nicos Anastasiades said on Wednesday he did not want to play the blame game after territory talks failed in Mont Pelerin in Switzerland in the early hours of Tuesday, but he said he was ready to pick up where negotiations had broken down.

In a televised news conference in his first public appearance since returning from Mont Pelerin on Tuesday afternoon, Anastasiades said that although he did not want to play the blame game, some things could not go unanswered, especially given that the Turkish side had blamed the Greek Cypriots for the failure.

He said the Turkish side had not shown flexibility on the issues during the talks but he would simply state the facts of what had happened in Switzerland, he said, rather than engage in blame.

“I want to state that I am ready to continue from the point we stopped in Mont Pelerin,” Anastasiades said. “The aim is to solve the Cyprus problem, the struggle will continue. Non-solution is not a solution.”

He added there had been some encouraging developments at the talks but key differences remained and that he himself had continued making counter proposals until the eleventh hour.

He began with a rundown of the Mont Pelerin talks and continued with a Q&A, focusing on the territory criteria that centered on the area for each constituent state, the number of refugees that were to return, the length of each constituent state’s coastline, and the reflection of all this on a map.

He added that they had agreed that the Turkish Cypriot state would be between 28.2 per cent – as per the Greek Cypriot side’s suggestion – and 29.2 per cent which was the Turkish Cypriot proposal.

Agreement on these, was to lead to a multi-party conference on security and guarantees with Greece, Turkey and Britain.

He said that as regards the number of refugees that would return to the north, even though the United Nations had estimated that the numbers, based on the expanse of the areas that would be returned, could be between 78,247 people minimum, and 94,484 maximum, the Turkish Cypriot side said they would not accept more than 65,000 people.

It was apparent, the president said, that the Turkish Cypriot side wanted to link the territory issue with that of security and guarantees.

“As it was expected I rejected this proposal,” the president said.  Anastasiades reiterated that the Greek Cypriot side would not agree to a multi-party conference unless territory criteria was applied on a map, as per the agreement of the two sides.

“The non-solution of the territory issue would lead to linking the issue with that of security and guarantees, which is the Turkish side’s aim,” Anastasiades said.

If no agreement was reached on territory, he said, the Greek Cypriot side would find itself in a multi-party conference where it would be pressured to agree to proposals of the Turkish side as regards guarantees in exchange for concessions on territorial adjustments.

Asked whether the return of Morphou was discussed specifically, the president said that the number of refugees that would return under Turkish Cypriot administration, pre-defined which areas would be returned. The reduction of this number by the Turkish Cypriot side, he said, was such so as to avoid retuning some areas. The president refrained from saying which areas these were.

Commenting on whether Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci had a negative stance and if he was acting on Ankara’s orders, Anastasiades said that the Turkish Cypriot leader was trying to defend the positions of his side “within the margins he had”.

Anastasiades said that in order to achieve a solution that is acceptable to both communities it should meet the principles and values of international and European law and allow the establishment of a viable, functional and modern European state.

He said he had spoken on Wednesday with EU Council President Donald Tusk, European Commission President Jean Claude Juncker, US Vice President Joe Biden, European Parliament President Martin Schulz and would also be speaking later Wednesday with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

“Efforts are being made by all sides to continue the ongoing dialogue that will lead to a multilateral conference,” Anastasiades said.

He said has not spoken to Akinci since their return to the island.

According to reports in the north, Akinci had on Wednesday a telephone conversation with Biden, where he informed the US vice president on the talks and the positions of the Turkish Cypriot side.

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