THE settlement talks have not collapsed, Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides said on Friday, following the deadlock in the discussion on territorial issues between the two community leaders.
The minister briefed the members of the Standing Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, that is meeting in Nicosia, on the Switzerland talks between President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci.
Kasoulides was participating in the meeting as Cyprus assumed the chairmanship this week of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe until May.
The talks reached a dead end on Monday after the two sides failed to reach an agreement on all issues concerning territory. An agreement would have led to a multi-party conference – including Greece, Turkey and the UK – to discuss security and guarantees.
Kasoulides told committee members that the stance of the Turkish Cypriot side did not allow
for a date to be set for a multi-party meeting which would have been the final stage of the talks.
“If internal chapters remain, it will be a bad tactic to move to the multilateral conference, because it negates the view that all internal chapters are Cypriot owned,” Kasoulides said. Linking these issues with that of security, he said, which is an external chapter, is what Turkey wishes but not the Greek Cypriot side.
“This development was an obstacle in a road that was so successful thus far,” Kasoulides said. He added that the negotiations have not collapsed and expressed confidence that there will be “right moves” in the coming weeks.
Existing difficulties concern the linkage of the territory issue with the multi-party meeting which is not right, he said, as Cypriots need to agree between them first on all internal matters.
It is important, he said, that all sides feel equally safe as regards security.
At the meeting, Kasoulides gave an account of Cyprus’ priorities during its chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe for the fifth time.
Kasoulides said that during its chairmanship Cyprus aims to highlight the role that the Council of Europe can play “with its significant expertise, instruments and mechanisms, but also by its capacity to reinforce cooperation between member states”.
Commenting on Cyprus’ priorities during its chairmanship, he said that the government attaches great importance to the protection of cultural heritage.
In this respect, Kasoulides said, Cyprus will host an academic conference on “Initiatives to strengthen international capacities for the protection of cultural property and the prevention of illicit trafficking in cultural goods” on January 13, 2017, to which PACE will be invited to participate.
He added that the Cypriot chairmanship aspires to open this convention for signature during the meeting of the Committee of Ministers in Nicosia in May 2017.
Cyprus is to also organise a conference of the ministers of education on “Securing democracy through education”, while the Office of the Ombudsman is organising a thematic roundtable which will focus on homophobic and transphobic hate crime. In addition, the Supreme Court will host two international seminars on the freedom of expression and the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights in the digital era and on social rights in today’s Europe and the role of domestic and European Courts.
He added that the Cyprus chairmanship will also focus on enhancing dialogue and co-operation with regional and international partners.