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Cyprus Talks

President calls for unity, ‘avoid confusing the public’ (Update)

PRESIDENT Nicos Anastasiades called for unity on Friday, as reunification talks appeared to enter the final stretch following an agreement with the Turkish Cypriot side to resume negotiations.

In a public address broadcast on Friday evening, Anastasiades appealed to parties to refrain from airing any unsubstantiated interpretations and views.

“Securing unity during these important developments is a vital requirement,” the president said.

“The worst service we can offer our country today is to negotiate amongst us in public and causing the people confusion.”

Anastasiades and Akinci agreed on Thursday to immediately resume intensified talks leading to a crucial conference involving guarantor powers scheduled for January 12.

Following the agreement, Anastasiades said that meetings would take place on January 9, 10 and 11 in Geneva.

On January 11, the leaders will present maps on the territorial aspect of the solution, followed by a conference with the guarantor powers and any other involved parties on January 12.

The agreement was struck during a dinner in Nicosia, the first meeting between the two men following the breakdown of talks in Switzerland on November 22.

“Yesterday’s decision is an important development because it overcomes the problems created at Mont Pelerin, without solidifying the deadlock, leading to unpredictable consequences,” he said.

Anastasiades added that the two sides were restarting from the point they had left off, salvaging the momentum.

“Considering the serious dangers from a protracted deadlock or termination of the entire procedure, it was the political parties’ common position that talks should resume,” he said.

He reaffirmed his pledge that the conference would be preceded by intensive and substantive discussion of all outstanding matters in an interdependent way, including territorial criteria.

“The Turkish side has accepted and pledged that submitting a map on territory at a specific date is a precondition of this procedure,” the president said in the televised address.

Achieving progress in the issues in question would allow the sides to come within reach of an agreement, creating the conditions and prospects for a successful conclusion during the conference.

Anastasiades said considering the current phase of the talks started 18 months ago, but have been going on for 42 years, setting dates could not be viewed as asphyxiating timeframes.

He said any solution would be the result of the leaders’ free will and re-emphasised that no plan would be put to the vote if it didn’t satisfy Greek Cypriot expectations and address their reasonable concerns.

“Besides, the ultimate decision lies with the people through their vote,” he concluded.

The procedure will start on Monday with intensive talks between the two sides’ negotiators. Where necessary, the leaders will intervene to fill in the blanks, overcome difficulties in the four previous chapters, so that discussion on territory would be concluded in Geneva, followed by the multilateral conference.

The agreement between the two leaders is to discuss all six chapters by January 12.

Earlier on Friday, UN Special Adviser Espen Barth Eide held talks with Greek Foreign Minister Nicos Kotzias in Athens.

Reports said the meeting lasted two hours with the two sides exchanging views and ideas and also discussed ways of abolishing the system of guarantees and conditions for the withdrawal of Turkish troops from the island. Eide will then travel to Ankara for meetings with Turkish officials.

Security and guarantees will be the final, and probably most difficult hurdle to overcome on the road towards reunification.

In the north, Akinci briefed Turkish Cypriot parties about the latest developments in the Cyprus problem.

The Turkish Cypriot leader said all parties welcomed Thursday’s developments and emphasised the importance of will in achieving results.

Akinci said he hoped Thursday’s agreement would be implemented and have a good conclusion for both sides so that the next generations could live in conditions of peace.

Such an outcome, he said, would be to the benefit of the entire island and contribute towards improving Greco-Turkish relations, EU-Turkish relations, and be a good example for the region.

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