Press Conference by the Government Spokesman in Switzerland (11 November 2016)

The negotiation on the issue of Territory will continue next week in Geneva, the Government Spokesman, Mr Nikos Christodoulides, announced late Friday night (11 November 2016), noting that the talks in Mont Pelerin made significant and noteworthy progress.

At a Press conference, held in Switzerland, following the conclusion of the negotiations on the issue of Territory which took place at Mont Pelerin, the Spokesman said that “in the course of these five days there was a constructive dialogue between the two leaders, a dialogue that led to progress on the issues that have been discussed. The dialogue has not finished and that is the reason that there is a decision, following a suggestion by the President of the Republic, for a one week postponement, and the talks will continue next Sunday, 20 November in Geneva.”

Asked whether there was progress on the discussion of the criteria, the Spokesman said that “there was progress, as in all the chapters, there was also on the specific issue but there are still issues that either need to be discussed further or for an in-depth exchange of views to take place, and in this framework it was decided for the dialogue to continue. At the same time, the President of the Republic on his return to Cyprus will brief, as he had promised, the leaders of the Parliamentary parties about what took place in Mont Pelerin, and on Saturday, 19 November, he will be in Geneva where on the 20th these new talks will begin.”

He added that “it has not yet been determined how long the talks in Geneva will last, but based on the first initial understanding we are talking about three days.”

In response to another question, he said that “the objective for the new meeting is the objective that was set also for the meetings here; so that there will be an agreement on the criteria, which subsequently will be reflected on a very specific map, so that we can talk about the next, the final phase, of the negotiations.”

Asked whether a map was submitted by any side, he said “no, because the criteria have not been agreed. Our position was very clear from the beginning. No map has been submitted at the negotiating table either by the one or the other side.”

In response to an observation by a journalist that the leaders and their teams stayed until the end in order to have in-depth talks, and asked if there was any problem in the process, the Spokesman said that there was not any problem in the process. “Many issues were discussed. And all the issues on the table, all six chapters of the Cyprus problem, are of special importance for our side. The specific issue was discussed during the last two days. Previously, there was discussion, for the first time, on aspects of the Property issue, which are directly linked to the territorial adjustments that are expected to take place within the framework of the solution to the Cyprus problem, and the dialogue has reached a point at which the expected result was not there. There was, however, significant and noteworthy progress that is worth mentioning and it has been decided that the effort will continue next Sunday.”

With regard to a question whether there is a prospect for a complete agreement on the issue of Territory in Geneva on the basis of all that were discussed in Mont Pelerin, the Spokesman said that “I can tell you very clearly that this is our objective and we think that yes, it is a feasible objective. Beyond that, nobody can determine what the final result will be.”

Asked whether in Geneva there will be discussion exclusively on the issue of Territory or whether there will be also discussion on aspects of the Property issue, Mr Christodoulides said that “the objective in Geneva is the continuation of the dialogue that took place these days in Switzerland. You realize that the criteria concerning the issue of Territory, is the issue that is expected to dominate in the discussions.”

In response to a question whether any new request concerning a multilateral conference was submitted by the Turkish Cypriot leader, the Spokesman said “no, this was one of the objectives that existed in order to determine a specific date for a conference of this kind. But since there was no agreement, initially about the criteria and subsequently for these to be reflected on specific maps, the issue you have mentioned was not an item for discussion.”

Asked to say whether there was an exchange of views on Security issues, he said that “there was a reference, an exchange of views during a private meeting between the two leaders.”

Regarding an observation by a reporter that there is a feeling for the acceleration and satisfaction of Mr Akinci’s request for an international conference, the Government Spokesman said that “if that was the case, the date would have been set tonight. We have said very clearly that in order to come to this stage, which is certainly a desirable objective, if we don’t discuss the specific issue as well, and if the international conference does not take place either, we would not be able to know also the prospects for a solution to the Cyprus problem. But what is it that we are saying? What is important is not simply to set a date. What is important is for such an infrastructure, in terms of progress, to exist, so that when such a conference takes place to have the probability of success. And in order to have the probability of success we must be at the point just before the solution, otherwise, if we go to such a conference with many issues still open, there exist serious risks for failure, something which, at the same time, threatens the process itself.”

Asked whether it is satisfactory for the issue on Territory to close this matter, he said “no. We have mentioned the point just before the solution. One of the most important issues is also the issue of Territory, and the position of the President is very clear, he has repeatedly stated the particular position in public, and that is why we are here to negotiate.”

Responding to a question that it should not be considered certain that a date for a multilateral conference on Security will be announced, the Spokesman said that “we must wait to see how the discussion on the issue of Territory evolves. We cannot say something like that from now.”

To another question, he responded that “the international conference is related, if it will be convened, with the six chapters of the negotiations.”

Asked to say whether the target for a solution within 2016 exists, he said that “if there was an agreement tonight we would be closer to the target. As long as there is no conclusion on this specific chapter, we move away from the target of 2016. Beyond that, we must wait. In a week, we will be here again to discuss and we will see.”

Asked to say whether in Geneva there is any possibility that officials either from Greece or from Turkey will be present, the Spokesman responded that “under absolutely no circumstance. I can speak on behalf of the Greek Government. Beyond that, what the Turkish Cypriot side will do is something that does not concern us.”

When asked whether in Geneva the issue of the map must closed, Mr Christodoulides said that “what was in effect in coming here, will also be in effect in Geneva.”

Source: Press and Information Office.