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President presents proposal for EU involvement on Cyprus issue at council meetings (Updated)

Christodoulides, at a meeting with the Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres and Ursula von der Leyen
File photo: Christodoulides at a meeting with the Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres

President Nikos Christodoulides said on Thursday he hoped to ‘break the deadlock’ in the Cyprus peace process, also pitching to the United Nations Secretary-General his proposal for a more active involvement of the European Union.

Christodoulides and UN chief Antonio Guterres had a short meeting on the sidelines of a working lunch of the 27 EU heads of state.

The president and Guterres held their brief conversation prior to the lunch. The meeting had been arranged after Guterres had received a briefing from Rosemary DiCarlo, the UN Deputy Secretary-General for Political Affairs and Peace Affairs, about her recent visit to the island.

Cyprus government sources said that during the exchange with Christodoulides, the UN Secretary-General stressed the need to create conditions leading to the resumption of talks after the upcoming elections in Turkey.

For his part, the president reiterated his proposals on the roadmap to restarting negotiations – stalled since the summer of 2017.

Christodoulides also told Guterres he was ready to travel to New York.

In an interview with Euronews meanwhile, the president said his top priority is breaking the deadlock in Cyprus negotiations.

On his idea for the EU to designate a special envoy who would take part in any future Cyprus peace talks, the president stressed this would in no way supplant the UN.

“We are not trying to remove the United Nations from the Cyprus issue. On the contrary, the UN and the framework of its resolutions serves as our safeguard.”

Cyprus talks should not start from scratch, but resume from where they left off in Crans Montana, Switzerland.

Noting that timing is important, Christodoulides said that in Brussels they agreed with the presidents of the three main EU institutions – the European Commission, the European Council, and the European Parliament – that there should be some movement on the issue right after the general elections in Turkey scheduled for mid-May.

A day earlier the president had held meetings with these three officials – Ursula von der Leyen, Charles Michel, and Roberta Metsola.

“I certainly don’t anticipate radical changes in Turkey’s foreign policy,” Christodoulides told Euronews. “At least that is what the history of Turkish foreign policy shows us down the years. Still, the election of a new president – be it Erdogan or the leader of the opposition – would be a new development.”

The president conceded that difficulties lie ahead.

“I am very concerned that as long as the Cyprus issue remains unsolved, with every passing day new facts are created on the ground, making a solution that much more remote.”

He added: “A Cyprus settlement is my number one priority.”

Also on Thursday Christodoulides met with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, after which she tweeted that they discussed his proposal on the EU’s role. “We also discussed how to further support Ukraine and tackle circumvention of our sanctions on Russia.”

Government spokesman Konstantinos Letymbiotis said this concerned countries that were evading implementing the sanctions. “Because of Cyprus’ history, we deeply understand Ukraine’s position and support any EU measures.”

Earlier, in the morning, the president attended a meeting of the European People’s Party (EPP) after which he saw party leader Manfred Weber and Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson.

Christodoulides said that the way his proposal has been received so far by the three European officials leads to a certain optimism, adding that the effort will continue until the aim is achieved.

On Friday, the president is set to meet French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

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