By Tom Cleaver and Jonathan Shkurko

President Nikos Christodoulides on Wednesday insisted the government’s sole aim is to restart negotiations for a solution to the Cyprus problem, following United Nations envoy Maria Angela Holguin’s departure from the island the previous day.

“Our number one priority is to restart negotiations,” he said.

“We responded to all invitations to initiate a dialogue, to see if this effort can lead us to restart negotiations.

“Unfortunately, there has been no response from the Turkish Cypriot side so far. Nevertheless, the effort continues, we must give diplomacy time,” he said after a cabinet meeting.

“If there is political will, I am sure that negotiations can resume, and I am confident that there can be a positive outcome, always based on the agreed framework.”

Later on Wednesday, Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar criticised Holguin’s modus operandi while in Cyprus, accusing her of “provoking the opposition and turning me into a target.”

“her holding of meetings with some opposition groups is outside her job descriptions. This is not a nice thing. She visited Akinci twice. Is this even possible?” he said, speaking on television the north’s public broadcaster BRT.

“This sort of thing is not something that can be accepted diplomatically. She is taking steps to provoke the opposition and wear me down. I conveyed my discomfort to the appropriate authorities.”

He went on to say, “they targeted me with statements like ‘Tatar ran away from a tripartite meeting’. They never blame Turkey, they say Tatar ran away. Tatar is not alone. I evaluate every stage of this policy together with Turkey.”

Holguin had departed the island on Tuesday following meetings with Christodoulides and Tatar the previous day, declaring that her mandate had come to its end and that she would now write a report based on her findings.

However, her meeting with Tatar was brief and seemingly soured relations, with Holguin departing Tatar’s official residence after less than 20 minutes inside and without making any statements to the waiting press.

In a later interview with news website Kibris Postasi at the Ledra Palace hotel, she said she had been “surprised” Tatar had rejected the proposal of a tripartite meeting with herself and Christodoulides.

Tatar responded in kind on Tuesday, criticising Holguin’s modus operandi in Cyprus.

“She cannot gauge public opinion going from door to door. She has no right. It is not nice of her to go to the most extreme opponents and provoke, challenging the established order of the country,” he said.

“Frankly, I was annoyed by that … It is Holguin’s duty to investigate if there is common ground. It is already clear that there is not.”

Opposition party CTP leader Tufan Erhurman had earlier accused Tatar of “running away from the fight” for Turkish Cypriots’ rights in refusing to attend such a meeting.

“The rejection of dialogue resulted in the conclusion that the Turkish Cypriot people had a will for a solution but now do not even have the will for a dialogue. This is not the case for the Turkish Cypriot people. The distance between the Turkish Cypriot people and Ersin Tatar is widening.”