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Talks on security and guarantees kick off in Switzerland

File photo Conference on Cyprus

A working group starts work in Switzerland on Wednesday on the crucial aspects of security and guarantees, as part of negotiations to reunify Cyprus.

Participants in the Mont Pelerin talks are experts from the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities, and the island’s three guarantor powers, Greece, Britain, and Turkey.

Essentially the talks are a continuation of the Geneva Conference on Cyprus, which took place last week, and will address pivotal questions relating to security concerns and the issue of guarantees.

The purpose of the exercise is to identify the security questions that need to be answered and draft a working document which will be communicated to the leaders of the two communities, Nicos Anastasiades and Mustafa Akinci for consideration and political decision.

The talks are expected to last until Friday.

According to sources, technocrats aim to come up with various alternative scenarios relating to security and guarantees, put the parties’ positions on paper and discuss in detail the concerns and approaches they have.

UN Secretary General`s Special Representative in Cyprus Elisabeth Spehar will chair the talks and Special Adviser Espen Barth Eide, who is currently in Davos, may join them.

Diplomatic sources told the Cyprus News Agency that there will be no negotiation as such on the issues at hand; instead delegates will attempt to outline the questions raised by the UN on security and guarantees, which need to be addressed.

The Greek and Turkish Cypriot sides will have the opportunity to table their own questions on the subjects under discussion.

The high ranking civil servants who meet in Mont Pelerin in the next three days will start working on specific ideas, possible options, and proposals, to prepare the ground for a final discussion between the principals at the very high political level, the same sources have said.

The issue of security, as the same sources point out, is not limited to a military nature but concerns internal security, external security, Turkish occupation troops, the instruments of implementation of everything that might be agreed in a possible solution of the Cyprus problem as well as the concerns of the two sides.

The political decisions about future moves will be taken by those attending the Conference on Cyprus, possibly at the end of January.

The EU will be represented at the talks by its ambassador to Geneva and the special envoy of Commission President Pete van Nouffel, as observers/interested parties. They will be on site and will intervene as necessary.

The British Foreign Secretary will be represented by Jonathan Allen, Acting Director General, Defence and Intelligence at the Foreign Office, a post he took up in November 2016. Allen, who has served in Cyprus in the past, will be accompanied by legal experts and diplomats but not defence experts.

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