NEWS

Greece, Cyprus hope for progress in peace talks

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades expressed optimism on Friday after their meeting in Athens that reunification talks on Cyprus could soon be back on track. In private, though, the two men shared their reservations about whether the negotiations will be able to progress, sources told Kathimerini.

In their public comments, Tsipras and Anastasiades focused on the departure of the Turkish research vessel Barbaros from Cyprus’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) as an encouraging factor in the peace talks. However, behind the scenes both leaders expressed skepticism about whether Turkey would continue to allow the talks to progress smoothly without instigating a new provocation. Anastasiades walked out of the talks last year when the Barbaros entered Cyprus’s EEZ.

Sources said both men also had reservations about the role of United Nations mediator Espen Barth Eide, who recently angered Nicosia and Athens by suggesting in an interview that the Cypriot government should be consulting with Turkish Cypriots about the search for and use of the country’s hydrocarbons – a position that is shared by officials in the Turkish-occupied part of the island.

After the talks Tsipras said there would soon be another tripartite meeting between Greece, Cyprus and Egypt. The leaders of the three countries met in November to sign an agreement paving the way for closer energy cooperation.