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Turkish FM says no talks before European elections (Updated)

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu believes it is not realistic to restart Cyprus talks before the European parliament elections in May, he said on Wednesday.

Speaking during a briefing to the Turkish Grand National Assembly’s foreign affairs committee, he expressed the view that a new process in Cyprus seemed unlikely taking into account the fact that EU parliament elections were coming up, though he did not specify how Cyprus talks could be affected by elections that have no bearing on an individual country’s government.

“Until then, by continuing our informal contacts with all sides, we argue that this time there is a need for an agreement to be reached with all sides – both sides on the island, as well as with the guarantor countries, as to what will be discussed in the negotiations,” Cavusoglu added. “Otherwise, all our efforts will be wasted again as in Crans-Montana.”

“Despite our good intentions, because the Greek Cypriot side did not want to share anything with the Turkish Cypriot side, unfortunately, the UN secretary-general was forced to end the talks in Crans-Montana,” he said, referring to the last round of negotiations that collapsed in July 2017 at the Swiss resort.

The two Cypriot leaders are currently engaged in shuttle diplomacy through the UN to establish ‘terms of reference’ for the resumption of talks. UN envoy Jane Holl Lute was on the island in December to meet them both separately and is due back early this year.

The chief of Unficyp Elizabeth Spehar is to meet the two leaders separately on Friday before her trip to New York where she is to brief the UN Security Council on the peacekeeping force ahead of a vote on January 30 for the renewal of its mandate for another six months.

Spehar will meet President Nicos Anastasiades on Friday morning and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci in the afternoon before leaving the island on Saturday.

The UN official is also scheduled to travel to Washington to meet US officials, both for the Cyprus issue and the renewal of the term of Unficyp. These meetings, however, have not been confirmed due to the partial shutdown of the US federal government.

Meanwhile, Turkish Cypriot ‘foreign minister’ Kudret Ozersay who is currently in the US repeated his view that Unficyp’s mandate could not go on as is.  “In other words, we are opposed to the continuation of the status quo,” he was quoted as saying on Wednesday.

Ozersay said the Greek Cypriot side perceived any changes to be made to Unficyp’s mandate as a change in the status quo. “This is why they oppose any changes. Our struggle is in that direction,” he said.



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