Direct negotiations between the leaders, since talks broke down in Switzerland last month, will resume on Tuesday.
A meeting between President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci has been scheduled for 6.30pm.
The two sides’ chief negotiators Andreas Mavroyiannis and Ozdil Nami will be meeting in advance, in the morning, to agree the agenda.
Citing sources, the Cyprus News Agency said the new round of intensified talks will revolve around all chapters in a cross-process negotiation.
According to reports, over the next 30 days the leaders will be focusing mainly on territory and refugees, seeking to achieve as many convergences as possible ahead of the Geneva conference.
The return of Morphou to the Greek Cypriots is a major sticking point.
Additionally the two sides will look to come closer together – or even settle – on a number of pending issues pertaining to the domestic aspect of a solution, such as governance.
Anastasiades and Akinci have agreed to meet in Geneva on January 9, and two days later they will present their respective maps. From January 12 a conference on Cyprus will be convened with the added participation of the guarantor powers (Greece, Turkey, UK), while according to the United Nations “other relevant parties will be invited as needed.”
The two sides disagree as to the interpretation of that sentence. The Turkish Cypriots insist on a five-way conference, but the Greek Cypriot side wants to broaden the scope to include the five permanent members of the UN Security Council.
It has been confirmed that Turkish president Tayyip Erdogan will be attending the conference on Cyprus. And the Cyprus Mail understands that British Prime Minister Theresa May could represent the UK.
In an interview with Greek public broadcaster ERT, Akinci said that what he and Anastasiades agreed to is the participation of the two communities plus the three guarantor powers.
A European Union representative would also attend, although the EU’s participation in the conference would be “secondary”.
Involving too many players in the conference would only serve to complicate matters, Akinci added.
He also ruled out the immediate scrapping of guarantees for the island, post-reunification.
At the same time, he said, leaving the current system of guarantees intact – which Greek Cypriots oppose – is not possible either.
Therefore a formula must be found to satisfy both sides.
According to Akinci, the guarantees could be revised after a transition period – perhaps within 15 years – after it has been established that the system works well.
A date has yet to be confirmed for a mooted meeting between Erdogan and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras ahead of the international conference.
On the thorny issue of territory, Akinci said that, to date, no maps or names have been placed on the negotiating table.
“A give-and-take is necessary if we want to reach a solution.”
Meanwhile in an interview with the Financial Times, the UN’s special adviser Espen Barth Eide said that a great deal of work is still needed to bridge Greece’s and Turkey’s opposing views on security arrangements for the island.
“In both countries I felt a positive approach to work in that direction,” the Norwegian diplomat said.
“But we’re also trying to overcome a conflict that has been around for half a century and we cannot expect this to be easy.”
Turkey currently maintains some 35,000 troops in the north of the island.
“The Greek side maintains that they would prefer an end to the system of guarantees and an end to foreign troops in Cyprus, whereas the Turkish position has always been that a system of guarantees should be continued at least in order to see that this new federal structure works because they feel a certain responsibility for the Turkish-Cypriot community,” Eide told the FT.
“But there are ways that we can find to modernise security in Cyprus in ways that should accommodate the security of both sides, so the security of one is not a cause of insecurity for the other.”
On the fallout from the failed military coup in Turkey, Eide said it has not impacted Ankara’s support for a solution on Cyprus.
“I was just there [in Ankara]. I did not get the sense that the current and at times dramatic developments in Turkey are undermining their commitment to help here,” he said.