President Nicos Anastasiades on Tuesday expressed dissatisfaction with the leaking of a confidential talks-related document, announcing that no more documents would be circulated to party leaders in Geneva.
The president’s decision, conveyed by government spokesman Nicos Christodoulides, came after the leaking of a confidential document, either late on Monday evening or early Tuesday.
Its contents were published on Sigmalive website on Tuesday morning. The document cites the differences between the two sides on the chapters of property and governance.
It had been circulated to the party leaders accompanying the president in Geneva.
“It is distressing that such a climate should be created via leaks and various punch-lines, at a time when the president is waging a difficult battle,” the spokesman told reporters.
The president, he added, would continue deliberating with and informing the parties, but no more documents would be provided.
Not 24 hours earlier, Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci were holding their first negotiations in Switzerland. The two leaders discussed the property issue, had a short discussion on governance, and a brainstorming session on security and guarantees.
Later on Monday, Anastasiades had informed the members of the National Council who accompanied him about the first day of his negotiations.
It’s understood the leaked document dates back to November, with the issues now being revisited.
Although a number of the listed disagreements were common knowledge, Anastasiades was said to be furious with the leak.
The document published by Sigmalive cited 24 differences between the two sides, 10 relating to governance and 14 to property.
Chief among them is the Turkish Cypriots’ insistence on a rotating presidency – a position rejected outright by Anastasiades and his team.
On a property-related issue, the Greek Cypriot side desires the automatic return of refugees in the emergent Greek Cypriot constituent state, whereas the Turkish Cypriots are seeking limitations.
Speaking from Geneva, one by one the party leaders denounced the leak.
Ruling Disy’s Averof Neophytou said it was “damaging to our cause.”
“No one has the right to exploit these crucial moments or our people’s anxiety for a positive outcome in order to play PR games,” he added.
Akel leader Andros Kyprianou opined that the incident did no favours to the Greek Cypriot side’s credibility with the United Nations.
Giorgos Lillikas, head of the Citizens Alliance, suggested the leak would backfire, as it might give the president the pretext to stop informing party leaders altogether.
While also lambasting the episode, Edek’s Marinos Sizopoulos said they should not get sidetracked but should stay focused on the substance, which are the negotiations.
As of late Tuesday afternoon, Diko chief Nicolas Papadopoulos had not commented.
Speaking to Mega channel, the Greens’ George Perdikis complained that the party leaders in Geneva were largely being left in the dark.
The leak, though reprehensible, should not be used as an excuse by the president’s team to refuse to hand over documents, he said.
The document in question had been given to party leaders on Sunday, Perdikis said.
“If we wanted to leak it, we could have done this from day one. The fact it was leaked 48 hours later is no accident.”
And to nip in the bud any speculation as to his own culpability, he reproduced on his Twitter account a statement by Pantelis Pantelides, the secretary of the National Council, saying that it was not Perdikis who outed the document.
Whatever the source of the leak, party leaders have been unable to keep away from social media while in Geneva.
Earlier, in the midst of the negotiations on Monday, Perdikis was tweeting:
“Unacceptable formulas being prepared to under-value properties. Spring sale coming up. En masse sell-off of properties.”
Disy’s Neophytou hit back: “This has no basis in reality. Unacceptable. We are here to help, not undermine the national effort.”
Key disagreements on governance:
- The Turkish Cypriots insist on the rotating presidency, and sets acceptance of this as a precondition for achieving convergences on the chapter of governance; the Greek Cypriot side rejects the rotating presidency outright.
- Federal jurisdictions. In total, 22 federal jurisdictions had been agreed, with the G/C side now wanting to add another six, a demand rejected by the T/C side.
- Air traffic control: the sides agree on a single FIR for the island, but the T/C insist on two separate air traffic control centres to be coordinated by a federal organ.
- Civil service: the G/C say one-third of civil servants overall in absolute numbers must be T/C; the T/C insist that the 1/3 proportion should apply across all levels of administration and management.
- The two sides disagree on the management of foreign nationals with work permits; the T/C want the decision to rest with the constituent states.
- Constitutional amendments: the G/C say this should come under federal legislative bodies exclusively, the T/C demand that amendments additionally be subject to approval by the constituent states.
Key disagreements on property:
- The G/C side desires the automatic return of refugees in the emergent G/C constituent state, the T/C wants limitations.
- Right of return: The G/C want the meaning of “emotional attachment” to be defined by the rulings of the European Court of Human Rights, while the T/C side says refugees must have lived at least 10 years on a property before they can claim an emotional attachment to it.
- Definition of ‘the public benefit’ concerning land or property subject to return. Land defined as being used for the public benefit would not be returned, but compensation given. The T/C side is seeking to broaden the definition of the term.
- Definition of ‘significant improvement’ to a property, impacting who gets the first say on a property – the current user or the legal owner?The G/C say ‘significant improvement’ is when the cost of the improvements exceeds the initial value of the property; the T/C say ‘significant improvement’ is when it accounts for at least 50 per cent of a property’s initial value.
- Properties sold to third parties: these cannot be recognised, says the G/C side; the same criteria should apply to all current users, counter the T/C.
- Loss of use of property: the G/C say refugees must have the right to compensation for loss of use and should be given priority should their initial mode of restitution not be satisfied, with compensation paid out of a co-financed fund; compensation to be paid by the constituent state to which the applicant belongs, say the T/C.
- Alternate property offered to refugees: the G/C say these should be located as close as possible to the original property; according to the T/C the alternate property offered can be located anywhere, including possibly in the other constituent state.
- Restitution: the G/C side wants alternatives to be afforded, the T/C demands immediate compensation to current users if they are forced to move.