By Elias Hazou
President Nicos Anastasiades on Thursday evening briefed party leaders on his upcoming informal meeting with Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci.
Speaking to reporters after the get-together at the presidential palace, government spokesman Prodromos Prodromou said Monday’s meeting would be without agenda.
“The dinner will have no agenda, as it is not part of negotiations. As such, the leaders will be free to raise any issues they want.”
The purpose of the dinner, Prodromou added, was to explore the possibility of resuming reunification talks.
He said the president and party leaders had a “useful exchange of views.”
Monday night’s informal dinner will be the first time the leaders of the two communities meet face to face since the collapse of Cyprus talks in Crans-Montana, Switzerland in July last year.
A lot of water has gone under the bridge since then, with Turkish warships preventing Cyprus from drilling for gas in seas east of the island while Turkish Cypriots ramped up their rhetoric, calling for joint exploration and exploitation of offshore hydrocarbons with the Greek Cypriots.
Following the briefing at the presidential palace – attended also by the foreign minister and former presidents of the Republic – the party leaders’ comments fell along familiar lines.
“The goal [of the dinner] should be to prepare the ground for the resumption of talks, from where they left off at Crans-Montana,” said Akel’s Andros Kyprianou.
“We need to be able to tell the UN Secretary General that we are ready to enter negotiations without qualifications.”
Disy boss Averof Neophytou said his party supported Anastasiades’ decision to hold an informal meeting with the Turkish Cypriot leader.
“We hope a new process for the Cyprus issue will emerge. Whenever there is a deadlock, it is bad for us,” he added.
Diko leader Nicholas Papadopoulos said one could not be optimistic about the outcome of the dinner, given the aggressive statements by Turkish officials and officials of the breakaway regime.
“The basis of any new dialogue must be clarified. The Guterres framework cannot be the basis.”
For his part, hawkish Greens party leader George Perdikis said: “The dinner is not a disaster, so long as it not the start of fresh concessions on our part.”