Ground not yet ready for Cyprus peace talks resumption

Cyprus’ president Nicos Anastasiades says conditions aren’t yet ready for a resumption of formal talks to reunify the ethnically divided island nation because both sides remain apart on key issues regarding power sharing and security arrangements. The efforts to restart negotiations are going through a “difficult phase,” but that he and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci have pledged to work to get negotiations back on track.

The United Nations hosted an informal meeting Tuesday between the two men in hopes they could clear the air on certain issues that would allow talks to resume.

Anastasiades said he did not have big expectations but he was headed to the meeting with structured and concrete proposals.

“I would not say there are big expectations, not because we do not want it, but because there have already been certain comments that show Turkey’s intentions as regards the starting date of substantive dialogue,” he told reporters during his departure from the presidential palace.

Beyond that, he said, many things were happening, like provocations at Strovilia and Denia and violations of the exclusive economic zone, that must end.

Anastasiades said he also had a specific proposal regarding decentralisation.

Government spokesman Prodromos Prodromou said Monday the aim of the meeting is to conclude the terms of reference that could lead to the resumption of settlement talks.

Prodromou also noted that in order to see progress, all six parameters of the framework outlined by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres needed to be accepted.

Prodromou said the meeting had no agenda, and that the two leaders would not engage in formal negotiations. “The president is going there to meet Mr Akinci, some misunderstandings might be resolved and the best possible explanations might be offered. If there is political will, especially on the part of Turkey, the process to resume settlement talks will also go forward” he said.

He also said that Anastasiades’ goal was “to have a discussion and achieve progress in order to agree on the terms of reference.” Prodromou added that accepting all six parameters of the Guterres framework was a basic component while noting that all parameters were equally important for the Greek Cypriot side.

“The end of guarantees and the withdrawal of occupation troops is certainly a matter of priority for the Greek Cypriot side which is faced with [Turkey’s] occupation for 45 years. However, everything needs to be discussed at the meeting” he said.

Concerning the president’s proposal for a decentralised federation, Prodromou said that this was also part of the Guterres framework. The UN chief had asked the parties to discuss where, when and how to employ a positive vote in their decisions.

“All issues need to be addressed with sincerity, particularly the fact that in order to progress, all six parameters of the Guterres framework need to be accepted” the spokesman added.

Asked if Anastasiades would also discuss confidence-building measures with Akinci, the spokesman said: “This discussion remains always open.” He said however that what matters now was to reach an agreement on the terms of reference, in order to resume talks for a Cyprus settlement.

Meanwhile, Spehar spoke to both leaders over the weekend, and on Monday, ahead of the meeting, a well -informed source said. These discussions concern the expectations that the two sides have, what they want to talk about. She is hearing from them and passing messages between them, the same source added.

It is up to the leaders to decide what the agenda is, how long the meeting will take, whether they are going to issue a joint statement. How the meeting proceeds is totally up to them, the source said, adding that confidence-building measures were expected to be among the issues on the agenda.

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