A working group due to convene on January 18 to hammer out security arrangements for a post-settlement Cyprus will meet for two to three days only, followed by another round of high-level talks, a source close to the Turkish Cypriot side said on Sunday.
Talks in Geneva last week failed to produce a breakthrough in a conflict spanning decades, though the three countries which are stakeholders in Cyprus – Britain, Greece and Turkey – agreed to set up the working group to look at security arrangements after these turned out to be a major sticking point.
The Greek Cypriot side has previously said there was no time frame for the talks.
The working group, made up of technocrats from all countries involved, was scheduled to meet at the Swiss resort of Mont Pelerin on January 18.
“The general agreement is that (working group session) should not take place for more than two or three days,” the source told Reuters, requesting anonymity because of the sensitivity of present discussions.
This would be followed by a new summit of politicians, possibly at a ‘higher level’ than the foreign ministers who met in Geneva last week, the source said.
“All this should take place within January.”
The Greek side seeks abolition of the guarantor system, accusing Turkey of abusing it through its 1974 invasion and the continued stationing of some 30,000 Turkish troops in the north. The Turkish side says some form of presence must be maintained to protect the minority Turkish side from a repeat of the turbulent 1960s.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said a total pullout of Turkish soldiers from the island is not possible.
Any deal should address how constitutional order should be respected in a united island, as well as protecting it from ‘external threats,’ the Turkish Cypriot source said.
Cyprus is on the verge of the volatile Middle East, and less than 100 kilometers away from war-torn Syria.