Katrougalos: Negotiations on Cyprus should be well prepared, not enough time for laying out the terms of reference

Greece’s Alternate Foreign Minister Giorgos Katrougalos has expressed the view that the negotiations for Cyprus should be well prepared to stand good chances of success. However, he said he did not believe there was enough time for laying down the terms of reference by the end of December.

In an interview with Greek News ahead of his visit to the United States, Katrougalos said it would be beneficial if the parties engaged in informal contacts to better prepare the whole effort.

The Greek Alternate Foreign Minister will be in New York on Wednesday, December 12, to meet with UN Secretary General’s envoy on Cyprus Jane Holl Lute, prior to her arrival in Cyprus for meetings with the two leaders, to explore a possible resumption of the talks.

During her last visit to Cyprus at the end of October, Lute had asked the leaders to agree on terms of reference that would constitute the consensus starting point for a possible negotiated conclusion to the Cyprus issue.

The terms of reference, Government Spokesman Prodromos Prodromou had said, will relate to the negotiations, both the procedure and what will be in the negotiations.

Asked if he considers it realistic to reach an agreement by the end of the year on the terms of reference, Katrougalos replied we want the new negotiations to be prepared well, to stand good chances of success. We will do our utmost to this end; however, I don’t think there is enough time for laying down the terms of reference by the end of December.

Katrougalos said it would be beneficial if the parties engaged in informal contacts to better prepare the whole effort.

He reminded of the upcoming � in the very near future � meeting between the Greek Prime Minister and Turkish President Tayip Erdogan in the context of which these issues could also be discussed.

Invited to comment on talks about guarantees in Cyprus through NATO and whether the Greek government would accept it, Katrougalos said our long-standing position on the need to abolish the anachronistic system of guarantees and on the withdrawal of the occupation forces remains unchanged.

This position was promoted with clarity at Crans-Montana, he added, and will be continued. Any security structure in a reunified Cyprus must be based on a Resolution of the United Nations Security Council, and it clearly requires an active role of the international organization; and the issues pertaining to the relationship between the Republic of Cyprus and NATO fall in the exclusive remit of the national political scene of Cyprus.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. Repeated rounds of UN-led peace talks have so far failed to yield results. The latest round of negotiations, in July 2017 at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana ended inconclusively.

Source: Cyprus News Agency