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Lute hopes for positive outcome in leaders’ meeting, Nicosia not optimistic (Updated)

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The UN Secretary-General’s special envoy Jane Holl Lute is expected to return to the island in the coming weeks, it was announced on Tuesday, while sources say Nicosia were not that optimistic about the upcoming meeting between the two leaders as thorny issues such as natural gas and Varosha remain unresolved.

According to deputy government spokesperson Klelia Vasiliou, Lute, who had a telephone conversation on Monday night with President Nicos Anastasiades, conveyed the wish that the leaders’ meeting on Friday would yield positive results.

Anastasiades will attend an informal meeting with Turkish Cypriot leader, Mustafa Akinci at the office of the UNSG’s Special Representative Elizabeth Spehar.

During the telephone conversation, Lute said she was monitoring developments with interest and expressed the wish for a positive result from the leaders’ meeting, underlining her intention to return to Cyprus in the coming weeks, according to a written statement by Vasiliou.

Anastasiades on Monday briefed political party leaders at the presidential residence in Troodos ahead of his meeting with Akinci.

Following the meeting, however, political leaders did not express optimism over the talks, other than Akel’s Andros Kyprianou who was only able to “hope” that the leaders would make the effort to try and create a more positive climate.

A government source on Monday expressed hope that the will of the two sides for the continuation of efforts for the relaunch of the talks would prevail at the meeting on Friday.

The source told the Cyprus News Agency that such a result would pave the way for a new round of contacts by Lute aimed at agreeing on the terms of reference for the resumption of talks.

Lute is expected on the island at the end of August or beginning of September, which she is also expected to hold contacts with the guarantor powers, Greece and Turkey, before briefing UNSG Antonio Guterres.

At the same time, Nicosia is cautious about Friday’s meeting the source said since Akinci’s proposal on setting up a joint committee on hydrocarbons and Turkish provocations in the Cypriot exclusive economic zone, as well as developments on Famagusta, were thorny issues.

During his meeting with Akinci, Anastasiades is expected to raise the issues of Turkish actions in the EZZ and those in Famagusta.

The government source also referred to a proposal tabled during the meeting in Troodos by a political leader on Monday to set up a subcommittee to inform Turkish Cypriots on issues concerning natural gas. Anastasiades welcomed the proposal as long as there was no question of co-management of natural resources, the source said.

As for the closed-off town of Varosha, the source said the president is expected to ask Akinci to put a stop to the ‘government’s’ actions while reiterating his proposal to set up a joint committee of experts on Famagusta.

In the meantime, the implementation of confidence-building measures (CBMs) agreed between the two communities is underway, another source told CNA. The bicommunal technical committees is examining other possible measures as well, the source said.

The list of CBMs Anastasiades submitted during his informal meeting with Akinci on February 26 is on the table and has not been withdrawn, it said.

The issue of Varosha was included in Anastasiades’ list of CBMs, the source said.

They added that following the latest developments and the moves by the Turkish Cypriot side, this was no longer a matter that concerned merely setting up a technical committee to deal with the reconstruction of the closed-off town but the issue must also be addressed at a higher political level since it concerns “the violation of UN Security Council resolutions.”

With regard to the opening of new crossings, the source recalled the opening of two new crossing points in Dherynia and Apliki-Lefka in November 2018.  The Greek Cypriot side has been noting the need to open new crossing points to benefit local communities, such as in Athienou and Kokkina but the Turkish Cypriot side seems to be reluctant, the source said.

At the moment an assessment is taking place of the results of the opening of the Dherynia and Aprliki-Lefka crossings, the source said.

 


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