NEWS

Cypriot leaders to size each other up

cypriot-leaders-to-size-each-other-up

Cyprus’ Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot leaders are meeting on Tuesday evening to get to know each other following elections in the north, but local reports on both sides of the divided island suggest Nicos Anastasiades and Ersin Tatar already have talking points for each other.

Last month, President Nicos Anastasiades offered to meet Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar informally when the Greek Cypriot leader called to congratulate him after elections in the north, according to government spokesperson Kyriacos Koushos.

But just days before the get-to-know meeting, which is set for 7 p.m. in the UN Buffer Zone, the two leaders made no qualms about hinting at talking points they would bring up during the event, hosted by UN special advisor Elizabeth Spehar.

According to local media, Tatar on Monday said he was going to the meeting ready to explain the expectations of the Turkish Cypriot people, saying “a solution cannot be imposed” on them.

Media reports also said Tatar met with officials from the Turkish Cypriot chamber of commerce, who have raised a number of political issues in the north.

“If the other side has good will, if they aspire to have a permanent solution in Cyprus, we need to tackle the embargo and isolation,” Tatar said after the meeting.

But Anastasiades has also hinted at his own talking points for the meeting, with Koushos telling Greek Cypriot media that the President “will raise the issue of Varosha and call for respect to United Nations and Security Council resolutions.”

The government spokesperson admitted that the latest developments in Varosha “were not such that would contribute to striking the right tone for restarting talks” but the president “still has hope the other side would show political will in creating such an environment.”

Greek Cypriots have also pointed out that the new Turkish Cypriot leader is opposed to a federal solution, a plan which Anastasiades says should remain the only option on the table.

Tatar has repeatedly argued during and after the election campaign that a federal system as understood by the south was “not realistic” and cautioned that any negotiations should take place on an equal footing between the two communities.

The two leaders will meet at a UN facility in the Buffer Zone, while it has not been clarified whether they would issue a joint statement after the meeting. [Kathimerini Cyprus]