European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and the EU’s foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini will attend the January 12 multilateral conference on Cyprus, reports said on Thursday.
They will be representing the bloc at the conference, which will feature the two communities on the island plus Cyprus’ three guarantor powers – Greece, Turkey and the UK.
President of the European Council Donald Tusk has also expressed the desire to attend the conference, according to public broadcaster CyBC.
The objective of the confab, to take place in Geneva on January 12, is to hammer out a comprehensive Cyprus accord by clinching a deal on the island’s security and guarantees arrangement, post-reunification.
On Thursday, president Nicos Anastasiades held a series of meetings with foreign leaders on the sidelines of the General Affairs European Council in Brussels, the last for 2016.
Anastasiades spoke with Tusk and German Chancellor Chancellor Angela Merkel.
According to CyBC, Merkel intimated she was interested in attending the Geneva conference, and if she could not, her foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier would go in her place.
During the Council’s working lunch, Anastasiades briefed EU heads of state on the state of play in ongoing negotiations to reunify the island.
“We are doing our utmost to reach a comprehensive settlement,” Anastasiades told reporters before going in.
On Friday, Anastasiades is scheduled to hold talks with Juncker. They will be discussing the EU’s role in the multilateral conference and the issue of security and guarantees.
Nicosia is seeking to lock in the EU’s participation at the crunch conference in Geneva.
Speaking to reporters after the Council lunch, government spokesman Nicos Christodoulides said the president was “completely satisfied” with the outcome of his contacts in Brussels.
The European Council agreed to include in its conclusions a paragraph on Cyprus, in which it stresses its readiness to participate in the Geneva conference.
Paragraph 21 of the conclusions states: “Following a presentation by the President of the Republic of Cyprus on the negotiations on a Cyprus settlement, the European Council reiterated its support to the ongoing process for the reunification of Cyprus. The EU, taking into account that Cyprus is and will remain a member of our Union after the settlement, stands ready to participate at the Geneva Conference on Cyprus on 12 January 2017.”
Also in Switzerland, and just ahead of the multilateral conference, Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci will hold talks from January 9 to 11, when they are expected to present their respective maps.
Christodoulides meanwhile denied that Washington has submitted a formal proposal relating to guarantees in a federated island.
A day earlier, a Greek daily suggested that the US had tabled a proposal on guarantees, mainly in a bid to convince Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan to agree to a solution.
The report said the US and Britain proposed a form of guarantee for a limited time that would only apply to the Turkish Cypriot constituent state, in a scheme under the supervision of the UN and possibly Nato.
Any troop presence would be drastically restricted, both in numbers and equipment, as well as dispersion.
The Anglo-American proposal also provides for the withdrawal of the main core of occupying forces from the north the day after the leaders sign a deal.
The Greek Cypriot side opposes guarantees and foreign armies on the island after a solution.
The Turkish side is insisting on a system of guarantees, at least for 15 years following the signing of a deal, and its review after that time.
The Anglo-American pitch was said to have been presented by US Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland.
On Thursday, a US State Department spokesperson declined comment on the purported proposal.
“We don’t read out the details of our diplomatic conversations,” the spokesperson said.
Back on the island, the communities’ chief negotiators Andreas Mavroyiannis and Ozdil Nami held another meeting.
The negotiators had a “productive discussion [regarding] the implementation of a #Cyprus settlement,” tweeted later the UN’s special advisor on Cyprus Espen Barth Eide.
Mavroyiannis and Nami are scheduled to meet again on Monday.
The government wants to further broaden the Geneva conference so that it includes the five permanent members of the UN Security Council.
Speaking to the media in Nicosia, French Ambassador to Cyprus René Troccaz said France “is ready to help, but it is not up to us.”
His comments came after a meeting with Andros Kyprianou, leader of main opposition Akel.