Indications that Cyprus summit could be lower profile than anticipated


As the Greek government embarks on a campaign to brief international players, including British Prime Minister Theresa May, on Greece’s positions ahead of the multilateral summit in Geneva on Cyprus, a senior representative of the Turkish-Cypriot breakaway state in the island’s north hinted on Tuesday that it could be held without all of the leaders of the participant countries.

“I have yet to see a clear statement, but I think Greece will be represented at a prime ministerial level. Britain will, perhaps, participate at the foreign minister level,” Huseyin Ozgurgun told Turkish news agency Anadolu, adding that Ankara will wait to see the level of participation before it makes any pertinent announcement.

“If it is needed, the foreign minister [will attend], if needed, the prime minister, and of course the president [Recep Tayyip Erdogan] if it’s required. But I don’t know this. The Turkish government and the president will make the assessment,” he added.

There was no reaction to Ozgurgun’s comments by the Greek government, but sources said it is working hard to ensure the participation of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.

The Turkish-Cypriot official’s remarks brought to the fore a scenario that has been floated recently whereby the Geneva Summit will be an open-ended procedure involving contacts at a foreign minister level, and if progress is made, this could be followed by another summit of leaders to rubber-stamp the results achieved.

According to government sources, such a procedure could stand to benefit from the engagement of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council who have not been slated a priori to attend next week’s initial summit.

The fact that neither Athens or Ankara have officially announced their level of representation at the Geneva Summit – apart from Erdogan publicly stating his intention to attend – highlights the difficulties encountered in the recent diplomatic contacts between both capitals.

As part of the effort to make contact with European Union leaders and members of the UN Security Council, Tsipras spoke on Tuesday on the phone with his British counterpart, whose country is one of Cyprus’s three guarantor powers, along with Greece and Turkey.

Britain has said it would make compromises on its sovereign territory in Cyprus to facilitate the territorial adjustments that would come with a settlement.