Ankara, Athens seek ways to revive failed Cyprus talks

Ankara, Athens seek ways to revive failed Cyprus talks

Ankara, Athens seek ways to revive failed Cyprus talks

AFP photo

The Turkish Foreign Ministry called on all parties of the Cyprus talks to determine a date for an immediate five-party conference, with the participation of Turkey, Greece and the United Kingdom as guarantor powers, along with the island’s two communities, amid a parallel continuation of negotiations. 

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hüseyin Müftüoğlu said on Nov. 23 that “a valuable opportunity has been missed” at a critical phase of the negotiation process between the Turkish and Greek Cypriots, as talks this week in Mont Pelerin, Switzerland, ended without a deal.

Ankara will now make an assessment with Turkish Cyprus and remains determined to find a viable solution to the Cyprus dispute, said Müftüoğlu.  

The much-heralded talks in Mont Pelerin between Turkish Cypriot President Mustafa Akıncı and his Greek Cypriot counterpart, Nicos Anastasiades, were supposed to produce a map of the internal boundaries of a future federation and pave the way for broader talks aimed at reaching a deal by early next year.

But the United Nations announced late Nov. 21 that the second round of the intensified talks had proven inconclusive.

Greece ‘open’ for talks

Greek government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos told reporters on Nov. 22 that Greece was “open” for talks with Turkey on the Cyprus issue.

“We think this issue is open; we will proceed carefully,” Tzanakopoulos told reporters, AFP reported.
Tzanakopoulos had been asked about speculation that Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras was arranging to meet Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, reportedly on Dec. 4.

Tzanakopoulos said that during a phone call with Erdoğan on Nov. 18, Tsipras “expressed desire for a bilateral meeting” but added that no specific date had been set.

“After yesterday’s [breakdown in talks] we will see what happens,” the spokesman said.

Erdoğan-Tsipras meet would contribute to talks: Akıncı

Speaking to the press in Nicosia upon arrival from Switzerland, Akıncı said an Erdoğan-Tsipras meeting would contribute to the negotiation process, state-run Anadolu Agency reported.        

“We are not going to flee from the negotiation,” Akıncı said, adding that the Turkish Cypriot side would not be the reason for failing to reach a solution.

Akıncı said talks in Mont Pelerin were deadlocked due to the Greek Cypriot insistence on the territorial issue. 
“[The Greek Cypriot side] has proposed the final result that they wanted to see on territory at the first meeting and created this deadlock by insisting on this mistake,” Akıncı told reporters early Nov. 23 at Ercan Airport in Nicosia. 

He said the Greek Cypriots took their position on territory even before agreeing on a rotating presidency and active participation on resolutions – crucial topics for Turkish Cypriots. 

“I tried to explain to them that we cannot accept efforts to bring Turkish Cypriots to a point where we cannot negotiate,” he added. 

The island was divided between a Greek south and a Turkish north when the Turkish military intervened in 1974 under the terms of the 1960 Treaty of Guarantee in response to an Athens-backed coup aiming to unite the island with Greece.

Greek and Turkish Cyprus blame each other 

In the aftermath of the failed negotiations, both parties blamed each other for the breakdown. 

The Greek Cypriot government spokesman, Nicos Christodoulides, said Nov. 23 that talks broke down because the Turkish Cypriot side did not stick to agreed-upon rules on how negotiations would proceed, according to The Associated Press.

Christodoulides told state-run radio that Turkish Cypriot negotiators evaded coming to agreement on how much territory each side would administratively control in an anticipated federation. He said Turkish Cypriot negotiators instead aimed to get the issue bundled into a final five-party – or quintet – summit bringing together Greece, Turkey and Britain that is intended to sort out security arrangements after reunification.

“We had agreed in principle with them [the Greek Cypriots and the U.N.] that the territory issue would be solved at the five-party conference,” said Turkish Cypriot presidential spokesperson Barış Burcu on Nov. 22.
Burcu said the Turkish Cypriot side had put forth a “very rational” and “helpful” proposal regarding the territories issue but that the Greek Cypriots had “demanded too much.”

“They came to the negotiations with an attitude as if the whole territory chapter was taken for granted. But the logic of our consensus and meetings was not this,” he said, adding that Turkish Cypriot’s proposal for territories was 29.2 percent.

Akıncı also said on Nov. 22 that the Turkish Cypriot Parliament would have an extraordinary meeting on Nov. 24 to discuss the latest developments. 

“We will continue our well-intentioned efforts and aim. However, I would like to underline that the Greek Cypriot side’s attitude is very important,” he said.