Consultations on Cyprus peace talks continue in earnest

The return to Cyprus, mid-week, of Espen Barth Eide, UN Secretary General’s Special Advisor on Cyprus, marks a week of consultations on different levels, which are set to focus not only on the resumption of the stalled peace talks but, more importantly, on future moves which will help make headway towards a political settlement.

Eide, who will host a dinner on Sunday for President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci, has already been in touch with both leaders and discussed with them “new ways of moving forward,” according to diplomatic sources.

In another development, Jonathan Allen, the Acting Director General, Defence and Intelligence at the Foreign Office, who headed the British delegation at the Geneva talks, will also be on the island for meetings with regard to the UN-led negotiations.

Allen, who took up this role in November 2016, will have separate meetings with Government Spokesman Nikos Christodoulides and the negotiator of the Greek Cypriot side Andreas Mavroyiannis.

Meetings have been scheduled for Thursday, 30 March. Allen is also expected to have contacts with the Turkish Cypriot community.

Allen’s visit to Cyprus is “a routine visit” in the sense that he maintains regular contact with key players in the peace process, the same sources have told CNA.

Efforts to rekindle the stalled talks, they point out, are more focused on future prospects and ways of achieving progress, than the actual resumption of meetings between the leaders of the two communities. Concerns relate to overcoming the current impasse and more importantly to reaching those convergences that would allow the talks to make headway, they add.

Ankara’s demand on the implementation of the four fundamental freedoms, which diplomatic sources describe as “groundless” and not feasible, as well as other positions the Turkish Cypriot side puts forward, are not conducive to moving the peace process forward.

The Turkish Cypriot side insists on the continuation of Turkey’s guarantees, on maintaining Turkish troops on the island even after a settlement, on joint decisions by the two sides on matters relating to governance and the proper functioning of the state, in addition to the fact that the Turkish Cypriot perception of political equality does not correspond to the definition outlined in UN resolutions, ie effective participation in government institutions and not numerical equality.

According to Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusogly, Turkey knows what it wants and what it does not want. In a public speech in Washington, last week, he claimed that the reason the Cyprus peace talks were interrupted was because the Greek Cypriot side “ignored our positive steps” and added “that is why there is a pause in the talks.”

Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. UN led talks between the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot communities resumed in May 2015 with a view to reunite the island under a federal roof.

The talks were interrupted in mid February by the Turkish Cypriot side, which demands that a decision passed by the Cypriot Parliament relating to a 1950 referendum on union with Greece is revoked, claiming this indicates a shift in the Greek Cypriot sides goal for a federal solution. The amendment provides that there will be a very brief reference once a year to the referendum at schools.

President Anastasiades has described the House decision as wrong and called on the Turkish Cypriot leader, Mustafa Akinci, who walked out of the talks, to return to the negotiating table to discuss pending issues with a view to reach a mutually acceptable agreement to reunite the country.

Source: Cyprus News Agency