An informal conference on Cyprus following the meeting of the two leaders with the UN secretary-general in New York next month should include Turkey which is the player to define the future of the whole process, government sources said on Monday.
Both President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci had expressed willingness to attend an informal five-party meeting – Turkey, Greece, Greek Cypriots, Turkish Cypriots and the UK – to discuss procedure for the future of the talks.
Since the two leaders announced last Friday their readiness to hold a tripartite meeting with the UN secretary-general in New York next month in order to plan the way forward, there has been speculation over whether a five-party meeting in the same composition as the talks in Crans-Montana in 2017 would ensue. They also announced they would continue to work with UN envoy Jane Holl Lute on the terms of reference to kick start a new round of negotiations.
A government source told the Cyprus News Agency on Monday that prospects for an informal, procedural conference of the parties which participated in Crans-Montana are open, but that Turkey’s stance will be of pivotal importance as it has to contribute to the effort and abandon its current “offensive” actions.
“The crucial issue is whether Turkey will finally contribute to the resumption of the negotiations, abandoning its current offensive activity of violations and tensions. Ankara will have to express and show its readiness at a certain moment in the framework of the deliberations undertaken by the UN,” the source said.
According to the source, the Greek Cypriot side favours a common meeting of the two leaders with Guterres after the UN General Assembly in New York at the end of September, noting that this may take place.
But then, and through the procedure for the terms of reference requested by the secretary-general, Turkey should also join in this effort, and so the prospect of an informal-procedural meeting of the parties involved in the negotiation is open.
According to the source, Nicosia is satisfied that Guterres reiterates in his response to the letters Anastasiades sent him recently that the UN position as regards the issue of Varosha remains the same, referring basically to the relevant Security Council resolutions and that preparations need to take place for the closed-off town to be handed over to its legal inhabitants.
Guterres, who responded to the letters both Anastasiades and Akinci had sent him, the Greek Cypriot leader on the Varoha issue, the latter on natural gas, tried to encourage both leaders by commending them on their initiatives and willingness to continue engaging in the negotiations’ procedure.
Government spokesman Prodromos Prodromou said on Saturday that the UN secretary-general has sent a letter to Anastasiades in reply to his letters dated June 14 and 26 and July 22.
“In his letter the Secretary General […] states that the UN is ready to contribute to the implementation of any measures that are consistent with the decisions of the Security Council”, the spokesman’s statement said.
“At the same time, he expresses appreciation with regard to the proposal to convene an informal conference under the auspices of the United Nations,” the spokesman said.
Akinci’s office too said in a statement that Guterres responded to the Turkish Cypriot leader’s letters of July 10 and 13. According to the announcement Guterres said that he noted Akinci’s concerns about the escalating tension as regards hydrocarbon resources and said he believes that the need for a solution to the offshore hydrocarbon problem constituted a strong incentive to reach a lasting solution in Cyprus.
According to the announcement Guterres also expressed his appreciation towards the Turkish Cypriot leader in relation to his commitment to a solution and his readiness to take more confidence building measures.
He also welcomed the proposal by Anastasiades and Akinci for an informal UN-led conference.
Meanwhile, Lute is expected to contact the two leaders after their meeting to inform them when she will be back in Cyprus to continue consultations on the terms of reference.
Anastasiades is expected to brief later this month the members of the National Council on his meeting with Akinci.