NEWS

Tsipras, Erdogan to meet for talks on Cyprus in early December

VASSILIS NEDOS

TAGS: Cyprus, Politics, Diplomacy

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan still plan to meet and discuss the Cyprus dispute despite the breakdown of peace talks late Monday between Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish-Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci, according to reports on Tuesday.

The meeting, slated for early next month, between December 4 and 6 according to some sources, will seek to find points of agreement that will allow a resumption of negotiations.

Government sources said that Greek and Turkish officials were engaged in talks to finalize the meeting and that there was good will on both sides to ensure it takes place.

The breakdown of talks in the Swiss resort of Mont Pelerin and the return of both Anastasiades and Akinci to Cyprus to consider the way forward put a damper on expectations, but Athens is said to remain optimistic that there is still scope to kick-start the process.

Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias reportedly said as much to the UN special adviser on Cyprus, Espen Barth Eide, in a phone conversation on Tuesday, insisting that Athens supports a resumption of talks as it wants a fair and workable solution to the decades-old dispute.

A successful conclusion to the talks in Mont Pelerin on Monday would have paved the way for a multilateral summit to validate an agreement between Greek and Turkish Cypriots.

Greece, however, had set two preconditions to agree to a final summit – namely the prior agreement between the two Cypriot leaders on the issues of territory and property, and an understanding between Athens and Ankara that a final summit will be held to validate a plan that would resolve outstanding issues – the question of post-settlement security and third-party guarantees.

Optimists believe the meeting between Tsipras and Erdogan could go some way toward overcoming some of the outstanding issues, most importantly the system of guarantees which Greece, along with the Greek Cypriots, wants to scrap, while Turkey insists on its preservation.

However, analysts fear that if Tsipras and Erdogan fail to bridge their differences then that will condemn the peace talks to failure.

The UN-led meetings in Mont Pelerin were the second round of negotiations at the Swiss resort.

The first round in early November was held to tackle the contentious issue of territorial adjustments. Anastasiades and Akinci failed to strike a deal but hopes were high that the second round could come up with a map delineating potential boundaries between constituent Greek- and Turkish-Cypriot states under a federal umbrella.

But this failed to materialize as there was disagreement over the number of displaced Greek-Cypriot refugees who would return to areas that would come within the Greek-Cypriot jurisdiction.

Anastasiades was pushing for the return of 90,000 while the Turkish-Cypriot delegation brought this number down to 55,000-60,000. And even though there was said to be a consensus that the jurisdiction of Turkish Cypriots would range between 28.2 and 29.2 percent of the territory.

The difficulty stemmed from failure to agree over how many displaced people would come under Greek and Turkish jurisdiction.

Turkey’s invasion in 1974 displaced more than a quarter of the island’s Greek majority and roughly half of the Turkish-Cypriot minority.

Online