Crit­i­cal week for Cyprus

Hopes re­strained be­hind ex­pres­sions of op­ti­mism as lead­ers gather in Geneva

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

Au­thor­i­ties in both Greece and Cyprus sought to give pos­i­tive sig­nals over the week­end about the prospects for a res­o­lu­tion to the long­stand­ing di­vi­sion of the is­land ahead of a landmark mul­ti­party sum­mit sched­uled to take place on Thurs­day in Geneva even though the meet­ing is ex­pected to launch an open-ended pro­ce­dure that could last for weeks or even months.

Cyprus Pres­i­dent Ni­cos Anas­tasi­ades and Turk­ish-Cypriot leader Mustafa Ak­inci are al­ready in Geneva ahead of Thurs­day’s meet­ing and are ex­pected to pro­duce maps show­cas­ing their in­ten­tions by the eve of the mul­ti­party sum­mit. The aim is for those maps to de­fine each leader’s vi­sion of the fu­ture bound­aries in a united fed­eral sys­tem com­pris­ing two states.

A re­al­is­tic goal, sources in­di­cated over the week­end, is for all sides to record some progress and fur­ther con­ver­gence to en­sure that the lat­est United Na­tions-buffered ef­fort at re­uni­fy­ing the is­land does not col­lapse like those that have gone be­fore it. For­eign diplo­mats are said to be press­ing for a quick con­clu­sion of the cur­rent ne­go­ti­a­tions so that ref­er­en­dums can be held in Cyprus and in the Turk­ish-oc­cu­pied north of the is­land by sum­mer.

But ex­perts say the prospects for a break­through are slim. The ag­gres­sive stance of Turk­ish Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan do­mes­ti­cally has been a con­cern in both Athens and Ni­cosia though the sense has been that he will not make any rash moves vis-a-vis Cyprus.

Bri­tish diplo­matic sources with knowl­edge of the ne­go­ti­a­tions mean­while be­lieve that Er- do­gan is so strong on the do­mes­tic level that he would be able to take a bold ini­tia­tive on Cyprus.

Com­ment­ing dur­ing a visit to New York at the end of last week, Greek For­eign Min­is­ter Nikos Kotzias said that Athens had not shifted its po­si­tion on the Cyprus prob­lem. “Greece al­ways sup­ported and con­tin­ues to sup­port Cyprus to the end with the main cri­te­rion be­ing the in­ter­ests of Cyprus it­self and the Cypriot peo­ple,” he said. He re­peated Greece’s op­po­si­tion to the pres­ence of guar­an­tor pow­ers and an oc­cu­py­ing army in north­ern Cyprus.

Prime Min­is­ter Alexis Tsipras was brief­ing Euro­pean of­fi­cials on Greece’s stance on Cyprus over the week­end when it re­mained un­clear whether he will at­tend the Geneva talks.

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