Monday, January 25, 2016

Cypriot party leader returns from historic talks in Turkey

The leader of Cypriot biggest opposition party AKEL, Antros Kyprianou, returned on Sunday from talks with the Turkish government saying it was agreed to continue the dialogue to overcome obstacles to a solution of the Cyprus problem.

Kyprianou was invited to Istanbul for talks with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Saturday but his schedule was changed to make space for a meeting with Turkey's Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu as well.

  • It was the first time since Turkey controlled the northern part of Cyprus almost 42 years ago that a Cypriot politician was invited officially for talks with Turkish government officials, as signs for a solution being near get stronger by the day.

Kyprianou said he conveyed to the Turkish government the views of President Anastasiades on what is needed to remove obstacles on the way to a solution which he is seeking in negotiations with Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci.

Anastasiades -- along with all Greek Cypriot politicians -- has set two prior requirements for an eventual solution to have a chance of being approved in a plebiscite by Greek Cypriots.

First, the abrogation of the 1960 system of guarantees under which Britain, Greece and Turkey were given the right to jointly act to preserve the independence of Cyprus, and second, the withdrawal of about 40,000 Turkish occupation troops.

"The visit has achieved the targets set, to meet with the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Turkey to put to them the unchanging positions of the Greek Cypriot side and to hear from them how they respond," Kyprianou said on returning to Cyprus.

Kyprianou indicated that he did not get an outright answer which would immediately raise obstacles blocking a solution but stressed that Turkey seems ready to discuss the issues.

"It is evident that there are disagreements but they are willing to discuss the issues and find solutions," said Kyprianou.

He said the Turkish officials made it clear that Turkey will leave space to Mustafa Akinci to discuss what are considered as internal arrangements, such as properties, territory and governance, but the Turkish government wants to have a say and a role on security arrangements.

He added that Turkey is concerned about the security of the Turkish Cypriots as they are in the minority, adding that it will take an effort to convince it that there are other ways beyond guarantees by Turkey to safeguard the security of Turkish Cypriots.

"I also discussed our desire to maintain an open communication line in case there are issues we would like to convey to them. The Turkish Foreign Minister said it was also his wish to continue the discussions we started," said Kyprianou.

Anastasiades and Kyprianou come from parties with diametrically opposing ideological views but they are in agreement on every aspect of a solution of the Cyprus problem.

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