Cross Cypriot talks set to kick-off today

Cross Cypriot talks set to kick-off today

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Cross Cypriot talks set to kick-off today

Greek Cypriot President Anastasiades (L) and Turkish Cypriot President Derviş Eroğlu (R) shake hands.

Negotiators from each side of Cyprus are set to embark on visits to guarantor powers Turkey and Greece today to hold meetings on the fresh reunification talks.

Negotiators Andreas Mavroyiannis for the Greek Cypriot side and Kudret Özersay for the Turkish Cypriot side will make simultaneous visits to Ankara and Athens, respectively, for the first time in 55 years since the Cyprus talks started.

Mavroyiannis will meet Undersecretary of the Turkish Foreign Ministry Feridun Sinirlioğlu for talks aiming to break prejudgments and to build confidence in a bid to support the Cyprus negotiations, according to Turkish officials. 

The Greek Cypriot side hopes to discuss specific topics on negotiation talks, such as pushing forward a proposal on Varosha (Maraş), a former luxury district in Famagusta that has been closed since Turkey intervened in 1974. However, a Turkish official told the Hürriyet Daily News the cross-meetings with the negotiators mainly aimed to help break psychological barriers and did not amount to a negotiation platform with the guarantor countries.  

The negotiators’ visits to Ankara and Athens will be a first since 1959, when Rauf Denktaş, then Turkish Cypriot leader, traveled to Athens on behalf of Turkish Cypriots, Kudret Özersay said.
These visits are to be held in the framework of a comprehensive solution, Anadolu Agency quoted Özersay as saying. 

The dispute in Cyprus has not been able to be solved merely between Turkish and Greek Cypriots, and guarantor countries Turkey and Greece are part of the discord, Özersay said, noting that all parties, therefore, should build a healthy dialogue.  

Hence, both societies will be able to meet in a bid to find a solution, Özersay said, adding this model required will from both sides for a solution. 

“I believe a healthy dialogue can be built through meetings in Ankara and Athens. These discussions will develop a reliable environment of dialogue that will enable the removal of prejudices. What is crucial is removing prejudices,” Özarsay said. 

The idea to hold cross-talks came from Greece in September 2013 when Foreign Ministers Ahmet Davutoğlu and Dimitris Venizelos met in New York on the sidelines of a U.N. General Assembly. Turkey accepted the proposal, believing it could give momentum to both sides’ efforts. The initial plan was to let negotiators meet with the foreign ministers of the respective mainland countries, but was changed after deliberations.

A Turkish military intervention in Cyprus in 1974 following a brutal offensive by Greek Cyprus against Turkish Cypriots resulted in the island’s division and decades of scarce contact. Psychological hurdles caused Greek Cypriots to reject a peace plan in 2004, even as the Turkish community agreed to establish a new partnership with Greek Cypriots.