Cyprus Mail

Place and date of Cyprus conference still uncertain, Nicosia fears Turkish ‘games’ (updated)

The Presidential Palace

The place and date of an informal five-party conference on Cyprus, which the UN Secretary-General intends to convene, remain uncertain, while Nicosia fears that Ankara is playing “games” with the date ahead of a European Council meeting set to discuss EU-Turkey relations.

According to previous information, the informal conference was scheduled for early March, but this no longer seems feasible. A diplomatic source told CNA on Tuesday that Nicosia expects to learn about the new dates “at any time.”

Another diplomatic source told CNA that the place and date of the five-party conference have not been set yet, but it seems impossible at this stage that the conference will take place in early March, in New York.

There are difficulties, due to existing measures to curb the spread of Covid-19 and “possibly due to games Turkey is playing”, the same source said.

There are serious reasons why Nicosia fears that Turkey is playing games with the date, both in relation to the European Council in March, as well as due to broader geopolitical relations, the diplomatic source added, saying that all these factors cause uncertainty as to the final outcome.

In the midst of these developments, Josep Borrell is expected to visit island, as the High Representative’s trip was finalised on Monday. Borrell is expected in Cyprus for contacts on February 19 and he will also have meetings in the north.

Last December, the European Council invited the High Representative and the Commission to submit a report on the state of play concerning the EU-Turkey political, economic and trade relations and on instruments and options on how to proceed, including on the extension of the scope of the above-mentioned decision, for consideration at the latest at the March 2021 European Council.

The fact was also highlighted by President Nicos Anastasiades, who described Nicosia’s expectations from the forthcoming summit during his statements, on Monday, with the Greek premier. “What we are aiming at is to see Turkey proving in practice, and not just through rhetorical references, that it wants a sincere and constructive dialogue, based on international law, away from any threats or illegal actions,” the President said.

He expressed hope that EU references about a “positive agenda” also involve positive actions on behalf of neighbouring Turkey.

France’s ambassador in Nicosia Salina Grenet-Catalano on Tuesday expressed the hope that “the upcoming 5+1 meeting will lead to a result-oriented process toward reunification”. The ambassador met earlier with Greek Cypriot negotiator Andreas Mavroyiannis and “shared views on the importance of UN parameters and the federal model.”

Meanwhile, the Turkish Cypriot side hit out on Tuesday over the visit the previous day by Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis to Nicosia.

‘Prime minister’ Ersan Saner criticised statements made after Mitsotakis met Anastasiades, where reference was made to occupying Turkish forces.

“If there is an occupying power in Cyprus, it is the Greek Cypriot side that ousted us by force of arms from the Republic of Cyprus and took alone the state of which we were partners,” he said, adding that Greek Cypriots and Greece do not want a common agreement on the Cyprus issue.

“Their dream is to sever the ties of Turkish Cypriots with Turkey, to give us minority rights in the so-called Republic of Cyprus which has become a Greek state for the interests of the Greek nation,” he added.

Saner said the views expressed during Mitsotakis’ visit were clear – that Greece and the Greek Cypriots still oppose the creation of a new cooperation.

“They clearly say that they want the so-called Republic of Cyprus to continue its path and we will be given a patch. They reject our sovereign equality and ostensibly claim that they want a functioning state structure. However, their intention is not to make us partners in the decisions.”

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