EU High Representative Josep Borrell said on Friday there was “a real opportunity” that needed to be seized, following a meeting he had on Friday in Nicosia with President Nicos Anastasiades.
Borrell, who is in Cyprus on a one-day visit, met Anastasiades in the morning at the Presidential Palace and later held a two-hour meeting with Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar.
He tweeted after the meeting that he has a “very good discussion” with Anastasiades on the Cyprus issue.
Engaging in the UN 5+1 talks is essential, for the benefit of all Cypriots, the region and the EU, he said. “There is a real opportunity that needs to be seized,” Borrell tweeted.
CNA reported that Borrell had said that Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot side must refrain from the rhetoric calling for two states in Cyprus, “because such a form of a settlement will never be accepted by the EU”.
But after the meeting between Borrell and Tatar, the Turkish Cypriot leader said that he reiterated his calls for a two-state solution and questioned the EU’s role in the peace process – saying that the Republic and Greece exert internal pressure on the bloc.
Tatar remained firm on his position, which as he puts it: “In Cyprus there can be a cooperation agreement between two states that will live side by side, based on sovereign equality.”
“Such an agreement will help create lasting peace across the island but also a safer and more secure region.”
Back in the south, government spokesman Kyriacos Koushos said that Anastasiades and Borrell discussed the Cyprus problem prospects in view of April’s informal five-party summit and the forthcoming European Council. The EU leaders are expected to also discuss in their meeting on March 25 to 26, the bloc’s relations with Turkey.
Koushos said that Anastasiades has stressed what was expected from Ankara regarding EU-Turkish issues, adding that if Turkey wanted to have a positive agenda with the EU it would have to show “a practical and sincere will to improving its relations with the bloc and all member states something that it also has to do, among other things, when it comes to its stance on the Cyprus issue.”
The president also said that any de-escalation of tensions stoked by Turkey, including its illegal actions, both in relation to the fenced area of Famagusta and within the Cypriot exclusive economic zone, should be lasting, Koushos said.
Anastasiades also insisted on discussing immigration, Koushos said, which was one of the issues to be raised at this month’s European Council, “and recalled the problems created for Cyprus by the flow of refugees from Turkey, something for which solutions must be found and at an EU level.”
Referring to the same issue, Borrell said that the March European Council would be an opportunity for EU leaders to assess Euro-Turkish relations and that de-escalation, as well as progress on issues such as the Cyprus problem were key to developing a mutually beneficial value-based relationship between the EU and Turkey.
Koushos said Anastasiades had the opportunity to refer to his acceptance of the invitation extended to him by the Secretary-General for the informal meeting in Geneva. Borrell reiterated the EU’s readiness to be represented at the new process and, in general, to actively assist in the effort to achieve a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem within the framework set by the UN and in line with the EU founding values and acquis.
Earlier in the day, following a meeting with the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative in Cyprus Elizabeth Spehar, Borrell said the EU was strongly committed to supporting efforts to resume talks on the Cyprus issue.
In a post on Twitter, Borrell said he started his mission to Cyprus with a briefing by the UN. “The UN work on the ground is essential for confidence building,” he said.
He added that the upcoming UN informal 5+1 talks provide an opportunity towards an urgently needed resumption of talks. “The EU is strongly committed to support these efforts,” he said.
Anastasiades also discussed the Cyprus problem with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday evening.
Meanwhile, the UN Secretary-General’s special envoy Jane Holl Lute is set to hold sperate meetings with the two leaders in preparation for the five-party summit to be convened by Antonio Guterres in Geneva at the end of April. Lute is scheduled to meet Anastasiades on Monday morning. She is expected to visit Athens on Wednesday for meetings with Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias and other officials. Dendias is set to arrive in Cyprus on Monday for a short visit for consultations with his Cypriot counterpart on the Cyprus problem and the eastern Mediterranean.