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President: Geneva talks signal crucial moment for Cyprus (Update 3)

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By Evie Andreou in Geneva

President Nicos Anastasiades, who arrived in Geneva on Monday for the informal summit convened by the UN secretary-general, said this was a crucial moment for the island and he had the political will to help things move forward.

Anastasiades, escorted by the negotiating team, law experts and most political leaders, presided over a National Council later in the evening at his hotel in Geneva ahead of the five-party summit that will take place between Tuesday and Thursday.

“I am in Geneva with determination and political will, in order to create the necessary conditions for the resumption of substantive negotiations for the settlement of the Cyprus problem,” the president tweeted right after his arrival in Geneva.

Earlier on, on his way to Switzerland, Anastasiades said this was a crucial moment for Cyprus. He expressed hope that the Turkish side would “also attend with the same will, the same consideration, because any divergence will not just be against Greek Cypriots, but also against Turkish Cypriots.”

Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias too, acknowledged the difficulty of the task.

“Tomorrow will be a difficult day, we are going there for the best (result), but let’s see what happens,” he said after a meeting with the Greek president whom he briefed about the latest on the Cyprus problem.

“We are in full coordination with the government of the Republic of Cyprus,” he added.

Dendias will attend the summit on behalf of Greece, along with his Turkish and British counterparts as representatives of their governments that are guarantors of Cyprus’ independence and territorial integrity, as per the 1960 Treaty of Guarantee. He is to meet with Anastasiades on Tuesday evening.

Negotiator Andreas Mavroyiannis met in the afternoon with UNSG special envoy Jane Holl Lute to discuss procedural matters.

All eyes are on the Turkish side and the positions it will officially table, and whether it will insist on a two-state solution and not a federal one which is the agreed framework.

Deliberations are scheduled to start on Tuesday afternoon with bilateral consultations of UNSG Antonio Guterres, first with Tatar and then with Anastasiades. Each leader will be accompanied by five of his aides.

According to government sources, this will be the first time the two leaders will table their proposals. The president, the same sources said, will wait to hear the positions tabled by the Turkish side and whether it will insist on a two-state solution. Anastasiades is set to promote the positions set within the National Council framework and the UN resolutions, based on a bizonal, bicommunal federation with political equality.

The same sources pointed out that the summit is not aimed at discussing in detail aspects of the Cyprus problem, but a more general framework on how to go on to substantive talks.

Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar, on his way to Geneva, made a stop in Ankara on Monday for consultations with the Turkish president.

After the meeting he said he was in full unanimity with the Turkish government and reiterated the position on a two-state solution. He added that he and Turkey were supporting two equal sovereign states side by side, cooperating with each other, “because if there is to be an agreement, talks must take place between states.”

“The whole international community has seen the realities on the island, as if one looks at Cyprus, after all, de facto there are two separate states,” he added. Tatar also said that their vision for two states is starting to be understood by the international community.

“Today Britain has shown interest in our policy. We are all waiting to see what policy they will follow in the end,” Tatar said.

Britain has on several occasions over the past few months, reiterated its support for a federal solution.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Tatar will put on the agenda the vision of the two states, based on sovereign equality. “We, as Turkey, will also support this vision. We will not tolerate the mentality that tries to condemn Cyprus to a dead end and tries to intimidate the Turkish Cypriots with an embargo.” Regardless of the outcome of the summit, he said, they will always be by the side of their “Turkish Cypriot brothers.”

Tatar said he and his team would head to Geneva on Tuesday, along with the delegation of Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.

In the meantime, European Council President Charles Michel said the summit on the Cyprus problem, as well as the easing of tensions in the eastern Mediterranean and the start of the Greek-Turkish dialogue were aspects for which Turkey was being assessed as regards the decision last March by the bloc’s leaders for a positive agenda on EU relations with Ankara. Speaking at the European Parliament plenum, Michel warned that the decision for a positive agenda could be reversed citing assessment of Turkey’s conduct, not only on the geopolitical issues and the rule of law, but also human rights and the fact that it withdrew from the Istanbul Convention against violence against women.

France on Monday lent its full support for Guterres’ initiative and stressed that “a just and lasting solution to the Cyprus issue cannot lead to the final partition of the island.”

A spokesperson of the French foreign ministry said Paris “encourages those involved to take full advantage of this opportunity and to demonstrate the political will and spirit of compromise required to overcome their differences.” Paris reiterated its commitment to the framework endorsed by the UN Security Council, based on a bizonal and bicommunal federation, offering the two communities full guarantees regarding their political equality.

“The future of Cyprus must be that of a reunited and prosperous island, within the European Union, in the interest of all Cypriots and of the stability of the region,” the spokesperson said.

Anastasiades is accompanied by the leaders of the political parties participating in the National Council, except Elam’s Christos Christou who had said he was against the president’s participation in the summit. Negotiator Andreas Mavroyiannis is also in Geneva, as well as Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides, government spokesman Kyriakos Koushos, and director of the president’s diplomatic office Kyriakos Kouros.

Attorney-General Giorgos Savvides and members of the negotiating team and team of legal experts are also part of the Greek Cypriot delegation. These are Ioannis Kasoulides Panayiotis Demetriou, Tassos Tzionis, Toumazos Tselepis, Christina Ioannou, Konstantinos Kompos, Kostakis Paraskeva, Aristotelis Konstantinides, Pantelis Pantelides and Andrianos Kyriakides.

 

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