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08/12/2016

Cyprus talks hit impasse over territory

Enlargement

Cyprus talks hit impasse over territory

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (C), Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akıncı (L) and Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades attend the Cyprus reunification talks in the Swiss mountain resort of Mont Pelerin, Switzerland, 7 November 2016.

[Reuters]

Crucial talks on Cyprus reunification held in Switzerland hit an impasse last night (21 November), according to the Cypriot press.

According to the Cyprus Mail the talks between President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akıncı came to an end without agreement in the early hours of Tuesday after two days of discussions that resulted in deadlock.

A statement from the UN just after 1.30 am said the leaders had been engaged in serious and sustained negotiations over the last two days in Mont Pelerin.

“Despite their best efforts, they have not been able to achieve the necessary further convergences on criteria for territorial adjustment that would have paved the way for the last phase of the talks,” the statement said.

“The two sides have decided to return to Cyprus and reflect on the way forward.”

Government spokesman Nicos Christodoulides tweeted at around 1.20 am: “Unfortunately the issue of criteria for territory was not resolved.”

Territory

Christodoulides said the main area of disagreement was on the amount of territory that would make up the federal zones each side would run. Greek Cypriots sought the return of enough territory that would enable as many as 100,000 displaced people to return to the homes and property they lost during the war. That would serve to build support for an accord that would be put to a vote and help reduce the costs involved with compensating those unable to return.

Akıncı’s spokesman Baris Burcu accused the Greek Cypriot side of being inflexible in negotiations and of keeping a “maximalist” approach, even as Turkish Cypriots agreed to cede about 7 percent of the territory now under their control.

Christodoulides dismissed Burcu’s accusation as “not corresponding with reality.”

A report from a Sigmalive correspondent around the same time said the negotiations were at a very critical point and that by 1 am the two sides had not reached convergence on the number of refugees to return, and by extension the percentage of territory for each constituent state, and also that the issue of coastlines had not been discussed substantially.

Greek Cypriot sources told Sigmalive it was too early to talk about the “collapse of the talks”.

The negotiations began on Sunday at the Swiss resort where the leaders had also been holed up between November 7-11 without having achieved agreement, and took a break at the request of the Greek Cypriot side during which time Anastasiades held consultations with the Greek leadership in Athens.

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The effort was to agree on criteria on territory – the percentage for each constituent state – to have it reflected on a map, and to fix a date for a multi-party conference on security and guarantees with Greece, Turkey and Britain.

The talks had been dogged for most of the day on Monday by what appeared to have been a dispute that arose from Turkish Cypriot press reports that Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras would not agree to a date for the multi-party conference unless Turkey abandoned the notion of a Cyprus guarantee.

The guarantees refer to the role of larger countries such as Turkey in case the independence, territorial integrity and security of Cyprus would be at stake. Turkey referred to the 1960 Treaty of Guarantees between the Republic of Cyprus, Greece, Turkey and the UK, to justify the Turkish invasion of Cyprus, which followed a coup d’état in Cyprus ordered by the military junta in Greece.

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Reports from Turkey and Greece said Tsipras wanted a one-on-one with Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan before any conference took place, and that the phone lines between Athens, Ankara and Mont Pelerin had been burning up during most of the proceedings.

Greek government sources reportedly said the differences were so great between the two sides that Athens felt a personal meeting was needed to try and find a joint solution, otherwise the multilateral meeting would fail.

Akıncı has been the one insisting on having a multi-party conference on guarantees by the end of the year and tying up loose ends early next year.  Reports said Turkey had been eyeing 28 December for the multilateral talks.

The Greek Cypriot side, which feels guarantees are unnecessary in an EU member state, insisted throughout the Swiss talks that it would not agree to a date for the conference unless a map reflecting the territorial criteria was produced in Mont Pelerin. Both sides had drawn a red line when it came to the return of Morphou, a town in the northwestern part of Cyprus, under the de facto control of Northern Cyprus.

The Greek Cypriot side also wanted other loose ends tied up before going to a multilateral conference. The outstanding issue of rotating presidency is also still on the table.

According to earlier Cybc reports on Monday, circles in the Greek government were saying Ankara was engaging in delaying tactics because the Turkish side did not want to help resolve what is essentially an international problem of invasion and occupation.

They said Turkey and Akıncı were making unreasonable demands and this proved they wanted the security and guarantees to remain untouched.

Positions

The Government Spokesman of the Republic of Cyprus Nikos Christodoulides said that the Greek Cypriot side does not want to enter into a blame game after the failure of the talks in Mont-Pelerin on the territory issue between Cyprus President Nicos Anastiasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci.

He noted that the Greek Cypriot side and President Anastasiades are not happy with the way the talks have concluded, noting that after his return to Cyprus, Anastasiades will inform the Cypriot people about the developments and what happened during the negotiations.

Christodoulides said the Greek Cypriot side did not want to play a blame game especially during this difficult evening for Cyprus. Furthermore, he noted that the Turkish Cypriot side`s references to maximalist positions by the Greek Cypriot side do not in any case correspond to reality.

Asked if the Cyprus talks could now be in danger, due to the failure in Mont-Pelerin, Christodoulides said that that it is early to make such assessments and underlined that the Greek Cypriot side is constantly committed to its goal of creating conditions that will pave the way for a positive outcome.

Responding to a question, Christodoulides said that the Greek Cypriot side was ready to give a date for a multi-party conference on the issue of security and guarantees if there was an agreement on the territory criteria and a map was drafted based on them.

Christodoulides noted that the Greek Cypriot side wants more than anyone else to terminate the unacceptable status quo and will do everything possible to achieve this goal, despite any difficulties and problems there may be.

Asked how the process will now move on, he said that President Anastasiades will review the situation and will take concrete decisions.

Further Reading