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Difficult start to second week of talks (Update 3)

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu greeting President Anastasiades during reunification talks in Switzerland


A downbeat President Nicos Anastasiades said on Monday that he wished he could say that the talks were going in the direction he wanted, as he left the late-night meeting which focused on each side’s proposals on security and guarantees submitted earlier in the day.

The first day of the second week of the talks in Crans-Montana appears to have been a difficult one for the delegations following reports that the Greek Cypriot side was disappointed by Turkey’s proposals on security and guarantees which insist on guarantees and the presence of troops – albeit reduced – on the island.

The main discussion at which substantive negotiations were due to take place between all sides, began at around 9.12pm Cyprus time and ended less than two hours later at 11pm.

Each side studied the documents of the other prior to the main session, and all sides had agreed to strict confidentiality.

Exiting the hall where the talks took place, Anastasiades told members of the press: “I wish I could tell you that things are as I wanted them to be”.

Earlier in the day, Anastasiades, responding to whether he was satisfied with Turkey’s proposals, said – looking up at the sky – “I’m satisfied by the weather”.

According to media reports, Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot side submitted a single document, a text half a page long which makes no mention of numbers or timeframes on the withdrawal of troops.

Prior to the evening meeting, government spokesman Nicos Christodoulides urged Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu to make public his side’s proposals on security and guarantees following the latter’s remarks that the Greek Cypriot side had taken a step back on the issue.

Christodoulides’ comments were provoked by statements Cavusoglu reportedly made to the members of Unite Cyprus Now group in the afternoon, after all sides had submitted their written positions on security and guarantees, ahead of Monday night’s main session.

Cavusoglu, according to CyBC, reportedly told the group that the Greek Cypriot side was taking a step back in terms of its own proposals, whereas Turkey was taking a step forward with hers.

“I call on the foreign minister (Cavusoglu) to make public the Turkish proposal as submitted on the issue of security and guarantees,” Christodoulides said.

Some, he said, either wishing to serve expediencies or because they are in a tough spot “make statements that in no way correspond to the state of affairs”.

Earlier in the day, both Greece and Turkey seemed to be playing hardball and sticking to their known positions.

Greek Foreign Minister Nicos Kotzias accused “some” of trying to “put the cart before the horse” while Turkish deputy prime minister and government spokesman, Numan Kurtulmus, said that without the Turkish Cypriot community being guaranteed, Turkey would not retreat on the issue of security and guarantees.

During the morning meeting, all parties, Greek Cypriots, Turkish Cypriots, and the guarantor powers Greece, Turkey and the UK presented their written proposals on the issue of security and guarantees.

The guarantor powers then left the room and the two sides presented their papers on bi-communal issues. The process in Crans-Montana is running on two tracks.

According to CNA, the Greek Cypriot side has submitted three documents; one on a solution mechanism, one on monitoring implementation of a new security system while the third relates to the remaining chapters. The leaders are due to meet prior to the main session.

Kotzias however criticised those “who are in a hurry” to create impressions at the talks.

In statements at the end of the morning Kotzias said some are in a hurry, either because they do not want negotiations to take place on the issue of security and guarantees or because they want to put a fait accompli in front of the prime ministers of the guarantor powers.

“The Greek side insists, desires, wants and is pursuing and working for real results and a solution to the Cyprus issue. And it is with this criterion the Greek prime minister will decide to come when we have conveyed to him that we have reached the point where his presence is necessary and not because some are in a hurry and do not want to negotiate or hold negotiations on the treaties of guarantees and troops.

“This negotiation needs to take place,” Kotzias added.

He said that on Friday the sides had agreed they would discuss the two questions posed by UN Secretary-General’s Special Adviser Espen Barth Eide on the security system in Cyprus, which would be the prospects and what would happen with today’s (system). “We had said that we would examine the mechanism to implement the system as well as the issue of occupation troops,” he said.

“We began with procedural issues and with a sense that we have to hurry for the PMs to come. We explained once more that substantive discussion must take place because we are on the sixth day of negotiations and the discussion has not started.”

Kotzias repeated that the Greek side firmly believes that there cannot be intervention rights, the occupation troops must be withdrawn, a treaty of friendship for cooperation for states in the region should be drafted with Cyprus having a significant role, that there should be a treaty on the method and procedure for the withdrawal of troops while there is an extended proposal by the Cypriot side on the mechanism to implement what is agreed.

Asked on which basis the issue of the presence of prime ministers was raised, Kotzias said that some want to “put the cart before the horse”.

He was commenting on press reports in the Turkish media that if the negotiating process advances as planned this week, a framework agreement would be agreed in this case the prime ministers of Turkey and Greece would go to Crans Montana on Thursday or Friday.

The picture of the day in Crans-Montana on Monday was the handshake between President Nicos Anastasiades and Cavusoglu.  Anastasiades was outside the building when Cavusoglu was leaving and while the latter got into his car, the president called him by his first name. Then Cavusoglu got out shook hands and they talked for a few minutes but not on political issues, reports said.

Cavusoglu also had a working lunch with Akinci who commented to the press saying: “This is decision-week”.

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