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Leaders meet with little hope of breakthrough

File photo: Antonio Guterres, Nicos Anastasiades and Mustafa Akinci at Crans Montana (CNA)

PRESIDENT Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci are due to meet on Friday morning to take stock of where each side stands on the resumption of talks, but hopes are not high for any kind of breakthrough.

The leaders will meet at the home of UN Special Representative Elizabeth Spehar in the UN-controlled Nicosia airport, which is not open to the media other than to ‘official’ photographers.

Though the basis of the meeting is to see how the talks could be moved forward under UN auspices, the continued moves by the Turkish side, both by drilling in Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone and making noises about opening the fenced-off town of Varosha, are likely to mar the climate considerably.

Akinci’s proposal for joint hydrocarbons management is also a thorny issue. That, and further hard-line rhetoric by the Turkish defence minister Hulusi Akar about hydrocarbons during his visit on Thursday, have likely worsened the climate. Speaking at the event in Kokkina with Akar, Akinci, commenting on the looming meeting with Anastasiades, said: “The time to show the necessary attitude to safeguard lasting peace in our island is already overdue. Let us make Cyprus a place of peace and cooperation instead of tension and conflict”.

He again referred to his joint gas-management proposal, which has been rejected by the Greek Cypriot side, adding: “Respecting each other’s rights, let us evaluate the potential resources as a factor that unites societies and not separating them.”

Turkish Cypriot ‘foreign minister’ Kudret Ozersay, in statements to the Anadolu news agency, said he expected nothing from the meeting. “I guess that it will be a meeting during which some issues regarding confidence building measures will be discussed and perhaps decided. I have to say, regrettably, that I do not expect many things as regards going somewhere in the context of the negotiations for a comprehensive solution.”

The Greek Cypriot side was silent on Thursday, but sources told CNA earlier in the week the government was not optimistic for progress given the stance of the Turkish side and its unacceptable manoeuverings. Greek Cypriot political parties were equally pessimistic on Monday.

Anastasiades met with his advisers on Wednesday to prepare for the meeting, which takes place at 9.30am. CNA said dossiers include proposals and positions submitted, letters sent, convergences reached, as well as UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ six-parameters framework for a resumption of talks from where they left off in Crans-Montana in 2017.

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