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Negotiator says Covid-19 holding UNSG back from Cyprus involvement

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres

Greek Cypriot negotiator Andreas Mavroyiannis said the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres is interested in getting actively involved in the Cyprus problem, but the process is being hindered by Covid-19.

He said the pandemic has pushed the Cyprus issue back, as elections to pick the Turkish Cypriot leader in the north were moved to October.

“We need to maintain conditions, and if they do not exist we must create them to some degree, so that immediately after we can start to develop a new attempt [at talks] through an administrative meeting at first, and then a substantive meeting,” Mavroyiannis said.

He added Turkey maintains a difficult position and an absence of political will on all levels.

Ankara’s actions threaten the peace process, he said, commenting on Turkish exclusive economic zone violations, airspace violations, and actions in Varosha.

The only way to solve the Cyprus problem is through peaceful negotiations, he said.

He also added Cyprus is preparing its plan to push for the renewal of the Unficyp mission on the island.

Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides said Turkish Cypriots need to take a position on everything Ankara is doing, as it affects their rights.

On Tuesday, the north signed an economic and financial support package with Turkey for approximately €300 million.

The agreement was signed by ‘Prime Minister’ Ersin Tatar and Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay.

Oktay said any solution to the Cyprus problem would need to ensure the political equality of the Turkish Cypriots.

On natural gas, he said: “If the international community wants to resolve the hydrocarbon issue, it must first convince the Greek Cypriot side to fair sharing.”

Relations between the two sides have been almost completely frozen over the past two months as crossing points closed due to the spread of coronavirus.

Last week, President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader talked, and decided crossing points would open for certain groups of Turkish Cypriots, and Greek Cypriot and Maronite enclaved residing in the north.

Earlier on Tuesday, reports said the bicommunal committee on health will meet on Monday to discuss the coronavirus situation with specialists and the reopening of crossing points.

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