Nicosia ready to substantially discuss the terms of reference, Spokesman says

Nicosia is ready to embark on a substantial discussion regarding the terms of reference with the UN Secretary General’s envoy, Jane Holl Lute, Government Spokesman Prodromos Prodromou said on Monday. He was speaking after a meeting of the negotiating team for the Cyprus problem under President of Cyprus, Nicos Anastasiades, at the Presidential Palace, which lasted for about one hour and a half.

Prodromou said that the President of Cyprus had this evening a working meeting with the negotiating team, ahead of Lute’s arrival to Cyprus this weekend and the contacts that will take place in order to formulate the terms of reference for the resumption of Cyprus talks.

The President informed them on Lute’s arrival, heard their thoughts and exchanged views with the members of the team. Certainly, our side is ready for the substantial discussion of the terms of reference, that will start with Lute, he said.

Asked if Lute has scheduled a meeting with the Turkish government, Prodromou said that we know that Lute will see the guarantor powers. She met already with the representative of the EU and will surely meet with the Turkish government as well.

In relation to the possibility of a joint meeting with the two sides in Cyprus, Prodromou said he could not say in advance whether the UN envoy will have one or more meetings. We know that Lute will stay in Cyprus for a few days, about 3-4 days. Therefore, she has the time to go ahead with her mission the way she wants us to proceed, he added.

The Government Spokesman was also asked if Lute was going to present any ideas to speed up the process. He replied that he was neither willing, nor could say in advance how the UN envoy will act. It is her mission. Until now, cooperation with Lute during the two previous meetings was very substantial, very productive, as the President of the Republic has said, the Spokesman noted.

Replying to a relevant remark, Prodromou said moreover that we have not exceeded any timeframe. On the contrary, the goal was to formulate the terms of reference the soonest possible and in case all sides show their readiness, i.e. the Turkish side as well, we will be able to conclude the terms of reference. Indicatively, it was said that this could be done by the end of the year. We are still before the end of the year he noted.

Asked about the way forward, Prodromou said that the desire, the will and the position of the UN Secretary-General, after a reflection period, was to start again with the negotiations. This, he went on, is very important for us, because our pursuit is to negotiate and to solve the Cyprus problem.

It is already positive that Guterres has activated a procedure with a view to resume [talks]. However, this time the Secretary-General takes care that negotiations will create the expectation of being able to reach an outcome, taking into account the precedent with the deadlock in Crans-Montana due to the intransigence of Turkey at the final stage, he said.

This time, he added, with the terms of reference, the Secretary General seeks a solid foundation that will commit all sides involved to actually negotiate a Cyprus solution, on the basis of decisions, UN resolutions and to negotiate what’s really at stake, that is Cyprus to get rid of foreign troops, the Turkish occupation army and interventions, and become a normal state, as the UN Secretary-General himself has envisioned.

The meeting at the Presidential Palace concluded at 20.00 local time and was attended by all members of the group supporting the Greek Cypriot negotiator, with the exception of two members that did not show up, while one member who was abroad.

According to information from the Presidential Palace, Lute is expected to arrive in Cyprus in the early hours of Saturday, December 15, and it is possible to start her contacts on the island on Sunday.

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