President announces CBMs ahead of the resumption of peace talks
President Nicos Anastasiades announced a handful of confidence building measures prior to meeting newly-elected Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci on Saturday, as UN-sponsored reunification talks are expected to get underway later in May.
Anastasiades and Akinci discussed their upcoming meeting during a telephone conversation they had on Tuesday morning. The venue is yet to be announced.
The measures include information and maps with regard to 28 anti-personnel minefields in the Pentadaktylos range.
Anastasiades also announced the transfer of the management to Evkaf of the Muslim places of worship that are in the free areas, and which belong to the Turkish Cypriot community and are not under the protection for foreign embassies.
He added that a decision has been taken to hire more Turkish speaking officers at the citizens bureaus in Nicosia to better serve the Turkish Cypriots who seek assistance, and welcomed the effort underway to unify the two sides’ football leagues “and I hope that it is concluded successfully at the earliest possible”.
Akinci, who won just over 60% of the vote in the second round of the elections, ousting conservative leader Dervis Eroglu, has already spoken in recent days of reopening the fenced-off ghost city of Famagusta to allow Greek Cypriot refuges to return, in return for international recognition for the port of Famagusta and Tymbou-Ercan airport.
Government Spokesman Nicos Christodoulides said that on the issue of Famagusta, the only proposal on the table, for which the international community is already aware of, is the proposal submitted by President Anastasiades which refers to the fenced off area of Famagusta (Varosha).
Invited to comment on statements by Akinci on the issue, the Spokesman said the Greek Cypriot side is aware of his public statements only. “When we are specifically briefed, then we will be able to comment,” he added.
As regards the illegal airport in Tymbou, the Spokesman the issue is often included in public statements and that the Greek Cypriot side has no official information to this end.
Christodoulides also said that President Anastasiades will be presiding over a meeting of the National Council soon.
On the public spat between Akinci and Turkish President Tayip Erdogan, the Spokesman said that Cyprus government monitors closely developments related to this incident.
“We are watching an attempt by Akinci to break free from Turkey’s dependence. We are sure that the UN and the foreign governments who are interested in the Cyprus problem closely follow these developments. We will also keep following developments and will comment accordingly”, the Spokesman said.
Christodoulides said that UNSG Special Envoy Espen Barth Eide will be arriving on the island next Monday.
The United Nations welcomed “the positive announcement on confidence building measures” that President Anastasiades has announced, and supports “meaningful confidence building measures which will further contribute to the positive climate surrounding the talks”, Farhan Haq, Deputy Spokesman for the UN Secretary General, said. He added that “now they are preparing for the early resumption of the negotiations”, noting that “making progress in these negotiations will be of utmost importance and will be our main focus in the upcoming weeks and months”.