President Nicos Anastasiades has spoken with Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci by phone and they have agreed to meet on the second half of February, the government announced on Wednesday in a brief statement.
No further details were given as to the date, location and time of the meeting.
“The goal of course is to establish a meeting with each other,” the government spokesman Prodromos Prodromou said later in the day. “We do not have anything at the moment to announce. We hope that a meeting will come to fruition and details will be announced when everything is determined.”
Prodromou said it has been widely known for many months that Anastasiades was seeking a meeting with Akinci, who had also expressed interest.
Anastasiades is to brief party leaders on Friday on the visit over the weekend by UN envoy Jane Holl Lute and the outcome of talks on Tuesday between Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara.
Lute, who is facilitating the leaders in drawing up terms of reference for new talks, left Cyprus on Monday, and was set to have discussions with the guarantor powers, Greece, Turkey and the UK. The exact timings are not known, and it is not known when Lute will return to Cyprus.
On Tuesday, Tsipras and Erdogan both agreed that meetings need to be held before Cyprus talks can start again to set clear positions, a “joint road map”, Erdogan said, adding that for Turkey, the political equality of the Turkish Cypriots was a matter of principle. Tsipras said the two countries must agree on a series of preliminary meetings on the security chapter of the Cyprus issue, which involves Greece and Turkey.
Speaking after the cabinet meeting on Wednesday, Prodromou said Anastasiades would contact Tsipras to be fully briefed and added that Nicosia expected Ankara to show political will during upcoming meetings with Lute.
“Despite the fact that there are big issues between Greece and Turkey it’s good to have a dialogue,” he said.
The outcome of the Ankara meeting, he added, “showed that Greece is ready for a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus issue, just like the Greek Cypriot side, on the basis of UN resolutions and resolutions”.
“As the prime minister of Greece conveyed at the meeting, we want the resumption of negotiations as soon as possible.”
In the same way that Greece has made it clear it no longer wishes to be a guarantor of Cyprus after a solution, “we expect Turkey to do the same thing”.
It was important that Turkey pass on a positive stance and show goodwill during contacts with Lute, he said
Meanwhile opposition Akel slammed Anastasiades for playing with words during a TV interview he gave on Tuesday night.
The president was asked by the interviewer if he preferred a federation or confederation following his references in recent months to a ‘decentralised’ or ‘loose federation’, and his apparent walk-back from a bizonal, bicommunal federation.
“He replied that what it’s called doesn’t matter,” Akel said.
“But in essence these names are not just names. A federation is one thing and a confederation is another. Federation refers to a state and confederation relates to two states.”
The party recalled the words of the late president Tassos Papadopoulos during the referendum period in 2004 on the Annan plan when he said he had “received a state” and “would not deliver a community”.
“We can only say that the transformation of Mr Anastasiades is impressive,” Akel added, given that Anastasiades had supported the Annan plan. “One can never know for sure what his real intentions are.”