With the informal five-party conference on the Cyprus issue under the auspices of the United Nations scheduled for early March, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis is expected to visit Nicosia during the coming period for consultations with Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades.
The visit was agreed in a phone conversation between the two leaders on Monday. Apart from this visit, a series of contacts at different levels will be made by Greece and Cyprus as the informal summit at a Long Island resort in New York presents several challenges, especially for Nicosia.
Tellingly, the summit will be, among other things, on the agenda of talks that Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias will have on Tuesday in London with his counterpart Dominic Raab.
As a guarantor power of Cyprus, along with Greece and Turkey, Britain has a significant say in possible talks on the island’s political problem. However, the combination of Brexit and a pandemic are London’s main preoccupation at this point.
Generally speaking, given the current circumstances, the impending conference is gathering criticism from several quarters, not least the new Turkish-Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar, Ankara’s choice and representative in the Turkish-occupied part of Cyprus. Tatar is a staunch supporter of a view that discussions for a solution be based on a loose confederation or two states rather than the bizonal, bicommunal federation which has been the basis for more than 40 years.
For Turkey, a tough stance on the issue is a relatively easy choice, as the time-consuming Cyprus issue does not seem to be taken seriously in major Western capitals, which reckon that after almost half a century of fruitless talks, another six months would not be catastrophic.
Officially, at least, Cypriot diplomats are making significant efforts to show that the bizonal bicommunal federation remains a platform for discussions. To this end, Nicosia has requested and received assurances from the official bodies of the EU that for Europe the framework of the solution is federal.