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Leaders to hold first 2017 meeting on Wednesday, diplomatic activity escalates

The chief negotiators of the two communities on Tuesday discussed territory, property and EU affairs as part of intensified talks ahead of a crunch summit in Geneva next week.

Andreas Mavroyiannis and Ozdil Nami also prepared a meeting between the leaders scheduled for Wednesday in the framework of the UN-led negotiations on the Cyprus problem.

It will be the first meeting of the leaders in 2017.

The two sides’ negotiators next meet again on Thursday.

The discussions in Cyprus are taking place against a backdrop of heightened diplomatic activity abroad, as guarantor powers Greece and Turkey strategise ahead of the Geneva talks which get underway on January 9.

In Switzerland, the leaders are expected to exchange maps by January 11. This will be followed on January 12 by a multi-party conference on Cyprus, featuring the two communities and the island’s three guarantor powers, including the UK.

At the conference the parties will seek to hammer out a framework deal on the security and guarantees arrangement for the island post-settlement.

This Monday, the breakaway regime’s ‘prime minister’ Huseyin Ozgurgun  held talks in Ankara with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and Prime Minister Binali Yildirim.

Ozgurgun later said the Turkish Cypriot side and Turkey have a ‘Plan B’ should the Cyprus talks collapse.

“The Greek Cypriot side has been stalling a settlement in Cyprus for years. How much longer will this be tolerated?” Ozgurgun, a known hardliner, told Anadolu News Agency.

“If these talks fail, I’m almost certain that the Turkish Cypriot side and Turkey will have something to say on the matter. They certainly have a Plan B.”

On the issue of security and guarantees, Ozgurgun said that they disagreed with the argument that the Cyprus problem will be solved with the withdrawal of Turkish troops from the island

“On the contrary the situation would get worse” he noted, adding that any demilitarisation of the island should include the withdrawal of the Greek troops stationed in the south as well as the dissolution of the National Guard.

“There is one clear point everyone needs to understand. That is that the Turkish Cypriot people will never abandon Turkey’s active and effective guarantees. This is out of the question and not even open to debate. We will not let anyone touch the guarantees, not even an inch. We are in full harmony with Turkey on this issue,” Ozgurgun added.

According to Turkish Cypriot daily Sabah, during the meeting between Ozgurgun and Erdogan, the latter confirmed he would be attending the conference in Geneva.

And Kibris reports that new UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres will participate at the start of the talks in Geneva on January 9, where he is expected to make a statement to the press.

In an earlier interview with Politis, president Nicos Anastasiades said the Geneva conference will be more of a four-party conference than a five-party one, suggesting that the three guarantors will in essence be negotiating the status of the 1960 Treaty of Guarantee between them and with the Republic of Cyprus, which he will be representing.

His comments were shot down on Tuesday by the north’s ‘foreign minister’ Tahsin Ertugruloglu.

The formula being proposed by Anastasiades is inconsistent with the December 1 agreement between the leaders and also incompatible with past practice, Ertugruloglu claimed.

He went on to slam Anastasiades for insisting on the participation of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council.

Such a participation has not occurred to this day, nor will it occur, added Ertugruloglu.

He urged the Greek Cypriot side to stop setting preconditions and “stop playing games” and to “come to Geneva with good will and a constructive spirit to engage in talks in order that an outcome may be achieved.”

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