Cyprus Mail
Cyprus Talks

Anastasiades and Tsipras launch coordinated action prior to Geneva

THE governments of Cyprus and Greece will undertake coordinated action both at European and international level, government spokesman Nicos Christodoulides said, following a three-hour meeting between Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades and Greek Premier Alexis Tsipras in Athens on Friday.

Speaking to reporters after the session, Christodoulides said it had been a “substantial, creative, and extremely constructive” meeting, during which mutual understanding on both matters of substance and procedure was noted.

“Both the prime minister and the president will have meetings with the heads of EU bodies,” he said.

“The Greek Foreign minister will travel to New York, and his Cypriot counterpart to the EU, where both will promote the decisions taken during Friday’s meeting.”

Asked whether a date has been set for a tete-a-tete between Tsipras and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Christodoulides said “there is no date yet, as of now”.

“We are waiting,” he added.

Tsipras and Anastasiades met ahead of the Geneva sessions, scheduled to start on January 9 with talks between the leaders of Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities, Anastasiades and Mustafa Akinci, under United Nations’ auspices.

On January 12, they will be joined by representatives of Turkey, Greece and the United Kingdom, Cyprus’ three guarantor powers, for talks relating to the international aspect of the Cyprus problem – post-solution security and guarantees.

The Greek Cypriot side insists that no third-party guarantees and troops are required in a reunified Cyprus, an EU-member state, whereas Turkish Cypriots argue the need for amendments, not abolition, to Turkey’s guarantees and the presence of a “deterrent force”, citing fears of Greek Cypriot aggression.

Another sticking point in the second leg of the Geneva talks is the make-up of the conference on Cyprus, with Greek Cypriots pushing for an expanded conference with the active participation of the UN Security Council’s individual members and the European Union, whereas Akinci has made the point that increasing the number of participants is likely to complicate matters unnecessarily.

On who will be asked to participate in the conference in Geneva, Russian ambassador to Cyprus Stanislav Osadchiy on Friday said Russia hopes to see a solution to the Cyprus problem in Geneva, and that Russia will be there if invited.

Speaking at a new-year’s event organised by Akel’s youth arm, Edon, Osadchiy said “first of all, we need to be sure that we will participate in the conference, if we are invited”.

“The composition of the conference has not yet been decided, and we are awaiting the decision, which usually is made by the two parties, followed by invitations by the UN’s Secretary General,” he said.

“The Turkish Cypriots believe that the Security Council is being represented by the UNSG’s special advisor, Espen Barth Eide, and the UN special representative for Cyprus, Elizabeth Spehar, and therefore the added presence of Security Council members in Geneva would be redundant.”

On Thursday, a delegation from main opposition Akel under leader Andros Kyprianou was in Athens for a meeting with Tsipras.

“It was a very substantial meeting,” Kyprianou, who was flanked by the party’s resident Cyprus-problem specialist Toumazos Tsielepis, said.

“All aspects of outstanding issues were discussed. We talked about matters of substance, as well as procedure, and there is great convergence on both.”

Akel’s top brass was also in Athens last month, in the immediate aftermath of the dramatic deadlock of talks in Mont Pelerin, Switzerland, in a bid to avert a definitive breakdown in the dialogue.

Also on Thursday, Akinci, speaking to Turkish Cypriot reporters, said the Geneva talks require “determination and courage”, since the last few miles “are always the hardest”.

“There is no way to foresee the outcome of Geneva, but we are going with determination and courage to create a new, federal Cyprus, which will be bizonal and bicommunal and based on the political equality of the two constituent states,” he said.

“If the outcome is positive, the end result will be a political framework, which will need to be filled in adequately. The first half of 2017 will be required for the settling of details regarding the drafting of constitutions and federal laws. It won’t be easy; the last few miles are always the hardest.

Meanwhile, the leaders of the two right-wing Turkish Cypriot parties, the UBP’s Huseyin Ozgurgun and the DP’s Serdar Denktash, decided to accept Akinci’s invitation to join him in Geneva.

The decision was announced by Ozgurgun in a recorded interview on Friday morning.

Ozgurgun and Denktash hold the titles of so-called prime minister and deputy prime minister in the unrecognised breakaway state in the north.

“The government will be left without anyone in charge [during the talks] but we will sort that out,” Ozgurgun said in his interview.

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