Cyprus progress eyed

Athens says PM’s pres­ence at Geneva con­fer­ence de­pends on prospects of deal

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

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.

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