The present phase of the Cyprus problem is very difficult, President of the Republic Nicos Anastasiades has said, adding that he and Mustafa Akinci, the Turkish Cypriot leader, have agreed “to do our utmost with a view to formulate such terms of reference that would allow us to enter into a creative and effective dialogue.”
Anastasiades and Akinci met today at the residence of the UN Secretary-General Special Representative in Cyprus.
“The meeting took place in a friendly and positive climate,” Anastasiades told the press after the meeting, adding that this does not mean there was a convergence of views.
Noting that he discussed with Akinci the issue concerning the terms of reference with a view to resume a creative dialogue, Anastasiades said the issue is insisting on principles.
“We said that the issue of security, including guarantees, intervention rights and the presence of troops cannot be overlooked,” the President said.
“Allow me not to be either optimistic nor pessimistic. We are going through a very difficult phase. We agreed to do our utmost with a view to formulate such terms of reference that would enable us to enter into a creative and effective dialogue,” the President said replying to a question.
He also said that he raised “the issue concerning actions by the occupying regime that contaminate the climate in general, such as the violation of the (Cyprus) exclusive economic zone, Strovilia, Denia and we discussed extensively on my proposal for decentralized powers.”
“I’ve outlined my views concerning decentralization of competencies so that the Turkish Cypriot positive vote would be exercised where the rights of the Turkish Cypriots are possibly harmed but not on all issues,” he said.
Anastasiades added that “Akinci did not reject the discussion but insisted that even with decentralization the Turkish Cypriot community should retain the right of a positive vote on every decision,” he added.
Asked whether we have reached a dead end, Anastasiades said they agreed on further discussion of the issue concerning decentralization but not on the issue of the demand for positive vote.
Anastasiades said they also discussed confidence building measures.
These are a series of measures which could improve the climate, could give another dimension to measures that have been agreed and have been exhausted and other will be further examined in a new informal meeting if necessary.
This, he went on to say, “does not mean that a substantive dialogue will recommence, not that we do not want to, but because the preconditions for the time being are not in place for a further discussion on my view (on decentralization).”
Anastasiades expressed hope that Akinci, “after examining what I conveyed, will realize that we cannot be led to a creative dialogue if he insists that the Turkish Cypriot community should have the decisive role in the decision-making.”
Responding to a question, Anastasiades said “Akinci insists on the basic principle that the security of the one side cannot be considered as threat of the other but he adopts views which are also expressed by Turkey.”
Responding to a comment that no positive steps have been made today, Anastasiades said this was not expected “as it was an informal meeting in a friendly climate, to exchange views, as Cypriots, on the way forward.”
Replying to a question on the measures of the mobile phone interconnection, the President said there will be a separate agreement of Cyprus Telecommunications authority with a certain communications hub and a separate agreement by the telecommunications provider in the occupied area, without a direct contract between them.”
Anastasiades said he will brief the political leadership on the meeting.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37% of its territory. Repeated rounds of UN-led peace talks have so far failed to yield results. The latest round of negotiations, in the summer of 2017 at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana ended inconclusively.