Greek Cyprus President says negotiations to reunify Cyprus show ‘progress’
by Daily Sabah with Reuters
ISTANBULJul 02, 2015 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by Daily Sabah with Reuters
Jul 02, 2015 12:00 am
Negotiations to settle the Cyprus island's division are starting to show some progress, Greek Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades said on Thursday, an unusually upbeat assessment on prospects of ending one of Europe's most enduring conflicts.
Anastasiades, who represents the Greek Cypriot community in reunification talks with Turkish Cypriots, told Reuters in an interview that some "convergences" had started to appear in negotiations on specific topics under discussion.
"A degree of progress is being achieved. If we continue at this rate I believe that soon we can start to speak of significant progress," he said.
Anastasiades said the victory of Mustafa Akıncı, a moderate left winger, in Turkish Cypriot elections in April appeared to be a turning point. "Without doubt the climate has substantially improved because finally there is a dialogue," he said.
"I think there is mutual understanding of the concerns of the sides, an awareness of the pitfalls ahead, and a decisiveness to deal with them so that, if there is the goodwill that there is today, to get to a solution."
"We are on the same track," Anastasiades added, referring to Akıncı.
The Cyprus issue has remained on the agenda between the Greek and the Turkish parts of the island since a Greek Cypriot coup was followed by a Turkish mission to aid Turkish Cypriots in the north in 1974.
Mediators have sought unsuccessfully for years to end a deadlock and reunite the island as a two-zone federated state.
A major initiative collapsed in 2004 when a United Nations reunification blueprint was rejected by Greek Cypriots in a referendum.
Anastasiades, who backed the 2004 initiative, said it was important that there were no winners or losers from the process.
Present negotiations would be assisted by an EU technocrat to ensure that any arrangements would be in conformity with EU rules and regulations, the Cypriot leader said.
Anastasiades declined to specify in what particular areas convergences had started emerging. At present, negotiators appointed by the two sides are looking at governance and property issues and at potential territorial adjustments in a future federated state.
"Some progress has been observed on the chapters that are being discussed," he said. The sides would continue to pursue 'low level' confidence-building measures, but in a manner which would not detract from the key issue of finding a deal.
Negotiations between Turkish and Greek Cyprus resumed in February 2013 after a two-year pause, but Greek Cyprus suspended negotiations after Turkey sent a hydrocarbon exploration vessel off Greek Cyprus' southern coast in October of last year. Turkey later called the ship back.