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Cyprus Talks

Greece welcomes Turkish proposal to sit down and discuss Cyprus

Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias (left) and his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu

GREECE has welcomed a proposal by Turkey that the two countries sit down and discuss the “difficult aspects” of a Cyprus settlement, Greek foreign minister Nicos Kotzias said on Thursday, revealing also that Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan will be visiting Greece in late November or early December.

Speaking to the press, Kotzias said that during his recent visit to Ankara his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu proposed to him that the two nations discuss the thorny aspects of the Cyprus issue prior to a possible resumption of the talks process.

Kotzias called this a “positive step,” ensuring that the best possible preparation could be made ahead of a new round in Cyprus negotiations.

Cyprus peace talks have stalled since July, when a multilateral conference in Switzerland came close but ultimately failed to achieve a breakthrough on the issue of security and guarantees.

On Erdogan’s mooted visit to Athens, Kotzias said it would likely take place in the last 10 days of November or early December.

Erdogan’s visit will come after Cavusoglu urged Greece on Tuesday to not become a “safe haven” for plotters of last year’s coup attempt.

The Turkish minister cited the 995 people who have applied for asylum since the failed putsch in Turkey last year.

Cavusoglu said asylum seekers needed to be evaluated to determine those linked to the network of US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, blamed by Turkey for masterminding the putsch.

Kotzias said decisions on asylum seekers are made by the Greek judiciary and had to be respected even if “it doesn’t please some.”

On Turkey’s EU accession prospects, Kotzias said Athens would like Turkey-EU talks to go on.

He said that during his visit to Turkey he and Cavusoglu agreed that officials from their respective ministries would meet regularly, at least once every six months.

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