Talks to re­sume on Fri­day

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

De­spite the fresh mo­men­tum that has picked up af­ter Mustafa Ak­inci won the elec­tions in the north last month, the Greek Cypriot side seems more cau­tions than ever be­fore, not so much be­cause of Turkey’s ever-present in re­solv­ing the Cyprus prob­lem, but be­cause op­po­si­tion is get­ting more vo­cal, es­pe­cially as 2015 is widely seen as the ‘break­through year’.

Pres­i­dent Ni­cos Anas­tasi­ades and Ak­inci agreed on Mon­day night to re­sume talks that had been stalled when Turkey sent its sur­vey ves­sel into Cyprus com­mer­cial wa­ters, with both lead­ers say­ing they have “a com­mon vi­sion” for a fu­ture Cyprus.

But Anas­tasi­ades has al­ready had to face the first salvo from the so­cial­ist EDEK party that de­clared on Sun­day that it was dead against any bi­zonal, bi­com­mu­nal and fed­eral so­lu­tion, an in­di­ca­tion of the op­po­si­tion that the pres­i­dent will face from DIKO and oth­ers, es­pe­cially as the count­down to par­lia­men­tary elec­tions in May 2016 has al­ready started.

The two lead­ers will meet un­der the aus­pices of UN Spe­cial Ad­vi­sor Espen Barth Eide, flanked by their re­spec­tive chief ne­go­tia­tors, An­dreas Mavroyian­nis and Ozdil Nami.

Al­ready, the agenda for the first pro­ce­dural meet­ing has been set, whereby by the two sides will agree to a time­frame for meet­ings and progress by their tech­ni­cal teams.

How­ever, the talks may even touch upon low-key con­fi­dence build­ing mea­sures (CBMs), such as roam­ing tele­phony on both sides.

Fri­day’s meet­ing will go through a gen­eral ex­change of views and to agree on the modal­i­ties for the struc­tur­ing and the fre­quency of the meet­ings, Eide ex­plained.

“I think this is a unique op­por­tu­nity, an op­por­tu­nity that will be grasped and it is truly re­ward­ing to work with two lead­ers with such a strong com­mit­ment to see­ing a sheer chal­lenge that can only be solved through a shared ef­fort to find a shared so­lu­tion”.

Although the thorny CBM of Fa­m­a­gusta, whereby the fenced ghost town would be opened up to Greek Cypriot refugees un­der UN rule, in ex­change for in­ter­na­tional sta­tus for Fa­m­a­gusta port and the Tym­bou-Er­can air­port, will prob­a­bly not fea­ture on the first day, it is ex­pected to come up very soon.

To begin with, the is­sue of roam­ing mo­bile com­mu­ni­ca­tions has al­ready been dis­cussed be­tween the Cyprus Cham­ber of Com­merce and In­dus­try (KEVE) and the Turk­ish Cypriot Cham­ber (KTTO) as well as the tech­ni­cal com­mit­tee re­spon­si­ble for such is­sues.

Re­ports sug­gested that this is­sue was on the agenda of meet­ings for CBMs be­tween Anas­tasi­ades and for­mer Turk­ish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu, how­ever Eroglu re­fused to dis­cuss it.

Gov­ern­ment Spokesman Ni­cos Christodoulides said on Tues­day that the two lead­ers agreed to begin dis­cus­sion about the im­ple­men­ta­tion of CBMs.

They fo­cused, he added, on how the pro­ce­dure of the Cyprus talks will pro­ceed.

“The first meet­ing will mainly deal with struc­tural and pro­ce­dural is­sues. The joint dec­la­ra­tion (of Fe­bru­ary 2014) and all that is pro­vided in it were con­firmed”.

Asked about the fre­quency of the meet­ings be­tween the lead­ers, the Spokesman said that “there is in­tent and de­sire by both lead­ers for more fre­quent meet­ings.”

As re­gards the CBM, he said that the two lead­ers agreed that the dis­cus­sion on those mea­sures should begin so that some of them are im­ple­mented di­rectly.

He re­called that in June 2014 the Greek Cypriot side had sub­mit­ted a pro­posal for 30 CBMs which, if im­ple­mented, could af­fect the daily lives of Cypri­ots in a pos­i­tive man­ner and re­in­force the ne­go­ti­a­tions, such as the open­ing of more cross­ing points.

The dia­logue will begin on such CBMs, he said.

For­eign diplo­mats were quick to lend sup­port to the re­sump­tion of the talks, chief among them be­ing the Ger­man am­bas­sador who said that the EU’s in­volve­ment should be “more ac­tive”.

“I met the Pres­i­dent and I of­fered Ger­many’s sup­port for the peace process. We are very en­cour­aged from what is go­ing on”, said Am­bas­sador Niko­lai von Schoepff.

He said that “Ger­many wants to help in very con­crete way, es­pe­cially to bring more busi­ness here. We see Cyprus as a great busi­ness hub be­tween Europe and the Arab world and also a united Cyprus and Ger­many can do a lot to i mprove the busi­ness sit­u­a­tion here. We see here great po­ten­tial and we are pre­pared to do more”.

“Ger­many is in favour of a strong EU here, Cyprus is part of the EU, and the EU should be more ac­tive here. We fully sup­port this”.

Sim­i­lar sup­port came from the Bri­tish High Com­mis­sioner in Ni­cosia, Damian Roderic Todd, who said that the meet­ing of the two lead­ers is a pos­i­tive devel­op­ment.

He ex­pressed his coun­try’s sup­port to the process of a set­tle­ment, not only be­cause the UK is a UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil per­ma­nent state, but also be­cause it is a guar­an­tor power and “be­cause Bri­tain and Cyprus have so ex­tra­or­di­nary hu­man con­nec­tions, cul­tur­ally and in hu­man terms. We want to make ev­ery­thing we can to bring about a set­tle­ment of the Cyprus is­sue”.

Ger­man For­eign Min­is­ter Frank-Wal­ter Stein­meier has wel­comed the re­sump­tion of peace talks say­ing that both sides would ben­e­fit con­sid­er­ably from re­uni­fi­ca­tion, as no-one is con­tent with the sta­tus quo.

The U.S. also wel­comed the re­sump­tion of the UN-led peace talks re­it­er­at­ing their will­ing­ness to as­sist the process in any way the par­ties find use­ful.

“The United States wel­comes an­nounce­ment that Greek Cypriot the and Turk­ish Cypriot lead­ers will re­sume set­tle­ment talks on May 15,” Na­tional Se­cu­rity Coun­cil Spokesper­son Ber­nadette Mee­han said in a state­ment is­sued.

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