Officials to smooth way for Cyprus meeting

Officials to smooth way for Cyprus meeting

Greek and Turkish officials will engage in talks this week to lay the groundwork for a bilateral meeting between Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan ahead of the crucial January 12 multilateral summit in Geneva about Cyprus.

Sources have told Kathimerini that the general secretary of the Foreign Ministry, Dimitris Paraskevopoulos, will head to Ankara this week and that his visit will be reciprocated by his Turkish counterpart Umit Yalcin.

It is clear that Turkey, as Kathimerini reported on December 17, wants to delay the bilateral meeting, which Athens has set as a condition for its participation in the summit, for as long as possible.

However, given that Turkey, the European Union, and the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, which will be represented by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, have already confirmed their attendance, it will be difficult to see how Greece could avoid being present.

Meanwhile, Turkish-Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci dampened expectations Thursday by reiterating – after meeting Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades for the last time in 2016 – that the Greek-Cypriot insistence on “zero guarantees, zero army” will not lead to a successful outcome of the reunification negotiations.

“In the realm of guarantees, we want to see Turkey guarantee the new setup. The Greek Cypriots do not accept this. There is a difference of position,” he said, adding that Turkey could play an important role in transporting natural gas from Cyprus and Israel to Western Europe and went as far as saying that he does not see the start of drilling operations within the Exclusive Economic Zone of Cyprus in the near future.

The two rival leaders are slated to meet again on December 4.

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