President Nicos Anastasiades said on Wednesday that all party leaders represented in the National Council would accompany him to Geneva next month for talks and the scheduled international conference.
Speaking to the press following a reportedly tumultuous National Council session, the president said that despite disagreements, a very productive discussion had taken place.
“I heard their concerns and some of the disagreements of the political leaders. I take into consideration and fully respect everything that has been said and we will proceed accordingly, always cooperating with the leaders and the Greek government,” the president said.
He said that the aim was to finally achieve a solution that would satisfy both sides and create a state that could lead to peaceful coexistence and reunification, free of occupation troops and unacceptable guarantees.
“All those participating in the National Council will accompany (me),” he said.
Anastasiades said that the presence of the European Union was “absolutely necessary” at the multi-party conference that is to take place in Geneva on January 12. He added that steps had been taken for the permanent members of the UN Security Council to also attend. He refrained from providing further information.
But Anastasiades said that the multi-party conference was not the end of the road.
“If the need arises to continue the dialogue, it will continue,” the president said. “We are going there with determination and always guided by the views and positions of the Greek Cypriot side.” He added that the concerns of both communities would be taken into consideration.
The talks in Geneva are set to begin on January 9, while on January 11 the two sides are to present their respective maps with territorial criteria.
The international conference on security and guarantees with guarantor powers Turkey, Greece, and Britain will take place the next day. A UN announcement last Thursday said that “other relevant parties shall be invited as needed”.
Anastasiades said that he was in constant contact with Athens and that a meeting would possibly take place before the Geneva talks “to align with the Greek government on the issues to be discussed at the multi-party conference”.
The meeting of the National Council, the president’s advisory body on the Cyprus problem involving all parliamentary political parties and former presidents, was the first since the two leaders agreed to resume talks last Thursday.
The only absentee from the meeting at the presidential palace, which lasted around three hours, was the far-right party Elam that announced on Monday it was leaving because it opposed the type of settlement that was being negotiated. The party on Wednesday delivered a letter to the president with the reasons for their withdrawal.
Following the end of the meeting, all opposition parties, with the notable exception of communist Akel, censured the president’s handling of the talks. The same parties are expected to issue a joint statement on Thursday.
Government spokesman Nicos Christodoulides, commenting on the concerns expressed by the centre parties over the ‘presence’ of the Republic of Cyprus at the multi-party conference, said that as the conference concerns a state “the Republic of Cyprus, that state cannot be absent from the discussion”. He added that one or two National Council meetings would take place before the Geneva talks.
The parties want Anastasiades to represent the Republic at the meeting and someone else to speak for the Greek Cypriot community.
According to reports there was a lot of tension at the meeting as the leaders of the opposition parties criticised the president for the way he handled things at the dinner he had last week with Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci where the decision to resume talks was made. Centre parties fear that the president caved into Turkey by agreeing to a multi-party meeting.
The head of the ruling party Disy, Averof Neophytou, said that as regards the multi-party conference, the permanent members of the UN Security Council should be part of this process. He also pledged his party’s support to the president.
The head of the main opposition party Akel, Andros Kyprianou called for unity as this was a most critical phase of the talks. All parties, Kyprianou said, should get together to shape a common policy as regards the remaining chapters. This, he said, could be impossible, but they ought to try.
He also said that the European Union representatives and the UN security council should be present at the conference.
Diko leader, Nicolas Papadopoulos, said that he wasn’t convinced by the explanations given by Anastasiades at the meeting. “The December 1 agreement creates a new state of affairs, which led to a five-party meeting, as is Turkey’s goal,” he said, accusing the president of breaking broke promises he gave.
As regards the demands the centre parties gave the president, Papadopoulos said, that the president would study them and that he pledged to call a new National Council meeting.
The head of Edek, Marinos Sizopoulos urged the president to stand firm on what had been agreed and that Anastasiades would bear responsibility for the final outcome.
The criticisms were echoed by the Citizens’ Alliance and the Green party.