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Cyprus Cyprus Talks

Lacklustre leaders’ dinner a ‘negative development’ (Updated)

The two leaders with UN envoy Espen Barth Eide at their recent dinner

The leaders’ failure to agree on the resumption of talks during their dinner on Sunday was not a positive development, government spokesman Nicos Christodoulides said on Monday, reiterating the Greek Cypriot side’s readiness to restart negotiations immediately.

“To be honest I don’t think the fact that we don’t have an immediate resumption of talks is a positive development,” Christodoulides told state radio CyBC.

“Even today, we are ready to resume the dialogue, either at leaders’ or negotiators’ level,” he added. “It is a negative development for Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots.”

The dinner between Nicos Anastasiades and Mustafa Akinci went on for almost four hours but ended with no concrete statements on the resumption of the talks or even any expressed desire by the leaders to resume the stalled dialogue, as is usual in such joint statements.

Akinci’s spokesman Baris Burcu was not impressed by Christodoulides’ statements, which he described as “baseless accusations” against the Turkish Cypriot leader. Burcu said later in the day that Christodoulides had been making  “untrue statements”, despite the agreement of the two leaders during dinner to refrain from making any statements.

Burcu, said in a written statement that during Sunday’s dinner, the two leaders shared their assessments, thoughts and observations, as well as their suggestions, and agreed together that only UN Special Adviser Espen Barth Eide would make a statement on what had been said.

Staying true to the agreement made before Eide, Burcu said, he would only state that “the allegations are not true”.

The talks were suspended when Akinci walked out of a meeting in mid-February, claiming that a House decision that schools commemorate a 1950 referendum advocating Enosis, union with Greece, had been a shift in the long-standing position of the Greek Cypriot side for a bicommunal, bizonal federal solution in Cyprus. He wanted the decision revoked before returning to the table. A compromise, turning over decisions on school commemorations to the education ministry is due to go to a vote in the house next Friday.

Christodoulides said the leaders had an open and frank discussion on all subjects relating to how they reached the current impasse and how the process could proceed both on substantive matters, as well as procedural issues.

“Nothing new was heard beyond what we have publicly heard from the Turkish Cypriot side,” the spokesman said. “We didn’t get the result we desired; that is, the immediate resumption of talks.”

UN Special Adviser Espen Barth Eide will continue his efforts in the coming weeks in a bid to get the talks going.

“There is a desire, but nothing specific,” Christodoulides said.

He suggested that what happens in parliament on Friday had nothing to do with the talks or President Anastasiades.

Main opposition Akel echoed Christodoulides in that it was a negative development but urged for efforts to continue to get talks going again.

“We are not surprised because we think tension has been created that needs work to be overcome,” party leader Andros Kyprianou said. “Our position is that efforts must continue so that the situation is overcome and substantive negotiations can start.”

Diko attributed the failure to Akinci’s obstructive and “intransigent stance”.

“Apparently, the occupation leader succeeded in buying time until Disy’s law proposal is voted and Akinci’s blackmail is satisfied and until the referendum in Turkey, serving (Turkish President Tayyip) Erdogan’s strategy.”

The party added that Turkey and Akinci continue to undermine the effort to restart the negotiations and toughen their already unacceptable stance, without paying the slightest political cost.

It also accused Anastasiades, Disy leader Averof Neophytou and Kyprianou of being neither able nor willing to highlight Turkish instransigence.

Edek chairman Marinos Sizopoulos called for a referendum so that Greek Cypriots could decide on certain aspects being discussed in the talks.

Sizopoulos said it was time for the president to go to the people with specific questions and “to take the people’s responses if he really wants to proceed democratically to a comprehensive solution”.

The Edek chairman said the questions should be whether the people accept rotating presidency, for Turkish troops to remain after a solution, granting the four freedoms to Turkish nationals, review and not abolition of treaty of guarantees, and whether they accepted the legitimisation of a number of Turkish settlers greater than the Turkish Cypriot population.

Disy blamed Akinci for the failure, saying talks should restart immediately, without conditions, from the point the two sides were at before the interruption.

“Logically, since Mr Akinci appears to desire a conclusion of the negotiations inside the next two months, and since he states that his positions have nothing to do with the referendum in Turkey, one would expect that he would see to it that he returns to the negotiating table immediately,” Disy said.

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