Settlement prospects hiked to 35%
Similar to the mood of confidence in the financial sector, where rating agencies have revised upward the Cyprus sovereign and bank ratings, the Sapienta Country Analysis monthly report has revised up the prospects of a Cyprus settlement to 35%, encouraged by the efforts of the two community leaders.
“We have revised up our assessment of the prospects of a Cyprus settlement to 35%, from 30% in April and 20% while the negotiations were suspended between October 2014 to March 2015,” the report said, that follows proposals for ‘confidence building measures’ from both sides in recent weeks, while the two leaders continue their “coffeediplomacy” trying to rekindle hopes of a settlement.
After a meeting with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon last week, Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci said that he expected substantial progress “within months, not years” of the suspended talks.
President Nicos Anastasiades hosted Akinci to their joint home town of Limassol on Monday night for a performance of a Turkish Cypriot play at the Rialto theatre.
After the play performed by the Turkish Cypriot municipal theatre, entitled “Cyprus: Bittered in Greek, Wounded in Turkish,” Akinci told reporters that “many years ago, when I was Mayor (of northern Nicosia) back in 1987, 28 years ago, the very same theatre group performed a play of Aristophanes called ‘Irini’; it was in the Greek Cypriot side when there was no communication at all, when there weren’t any crossings at all.”
“Tonight I am here with dear friend Nicos and we watched another play which gave us another strong message, that there is no one without any guilt, without any fault. On this island we committed mistakes, both Greeks and Turkish Cypriots. The point is to derive lessons from these past mistakes and build a better future for younger generations,” Akinci said.
Anastasiades told reporters that “the message we received from the play is a strong message. We have to work hard in order to bring peace, and I am committed to do so and Mustafa is committed to do so, and I believe that our people as well are looking for peace.”
Asked if he intends to visit the north to watch a similar play, he replied “yes, it is within my plans. The northern part is a piece of our country, my country and the southern part is a piece of Mustafa’s (country) and every Cypriot’s, therefore I intend to do so.”
The two leaders later were hosted to dinner by Limassol Mayor Andreas Christou.
Talks between Anastasiades and Akinci, have been going well since their first dinner on May 11, the Sapienta Country Analysis said, adding that Anastasiades clearly believes that Akinci is “a man he can do business with” and both sides have made efforts to improve the atmosphere with various gestures.
Two days after Akinci’s election on April 26, Anastasiades announced the transfer of control of certain religious sites to the Evkaf (the centuries-old foundation that traditionally looks after Islamic sites); pledged to hand over the maps of landmines laid in the Pentadaktylos range before the division in 1974; and to employ Turkish-speakers at citizen’s service centres.
During the leaders’ first formal meeting on May 15, Akinci announced that anyone crossing to the north would no longer be required to fill out a visa form.
During their second formal meeting on May 28, the two leaders announced five more CBMs: to increase the number of crossing points (there are currently seven), starting with Lefka in the west and Deryneia in the east; to interconnect the electricity grids; to prevent radio frequency interferences among radio stations; and agreed “on the desirability” of mobile telephone interoperability.
They also agreed to establish equality.
Both sides have played down talk of the “big” CBMs, namely the handover of the uninhabited district of Varosha, the opening of Famagusta port and Ercan/Tymbou airport to international traffic and the lifting by Turkey of embargoes on Republic of Cyprus flagged aircraft and vessels.
“The atmosphere is currently more positive even than at the beginning of the talks between Demetris Christofias and Mehmet Ali Talat in 2008,” the Sapienta report said.
“However, there remain a number of risks to resolving the Cyprus problem. Given the high levels of mistrust on each side, any misstep could quickly turn the mood sour. Moreover, the mainstream media are still in a generally hardline mode,” it concluded.
a committee on gender