Cyprus progress eyed
Athens says PM’s presence at Geneva conference depends on prospects of deal
The government said yesterday that the decision of whether Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras will attend today’s scheduled international conference in Geneva regarding Cyprus will not hinge on the participation of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan but on the progress made in the reunification talks between rival leaders on the island, President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish-Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci.
“If we assume that the groundwork prepared during the negotiations between President Anastasiades and Turkish-Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci has created a framework with good prospects for a total agreement, then the prime minister will go to Geneva,” aides said yesterday.
Athens appears to be shifting away from its position on Saturday when the government an- nounced that it was ready to “respond positively” and attend the Geneva conference with the highest possible representation if Turkey decided to do the same.
Tsipras contacted European leaders yesterday and spoke on the phone with European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker, who will be present today in Geneva.
Observers said that Athens’s shift in position could be linked to contacts made this week with senior European leaders.
Up until a few days ago, diplomatic sources said they believed that if Erdogan did not attend the conference then that would be a clear indication that Ankara was not keen on working toward a solution, since he is, they said, the only Turkish leader that can conduct meaningful negotiations.
However, the narrative changed yesterday, with the PM’s aides saying that a no-show by Erdogan in Geneva today doesn’t necessarily mean the rival Cypriot leaders have not made any progress or that a deal isn’t within reach.
“Obviously, if [Erdogan] is not present [in Geneva] it does mean something. But, even if Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim goes in his stead, he will definitely have the power to negotiate,” an aide said. Meanhwile, for the first time yesterday, both Greek and Turkish Cypriots submitted maps with their proposed territorial boundaries between the two constituent states under a federal umbrella. Anastasiades tweeted late yesterday that the submission of maps was a “historic moment” in the island’s history.