Cypriot leaders to meet next week on Green Line in bid to break peace talks impasse

Cypriot leaders to meet next week on Green Line in bid to break peace talks impasse

NICOSIA – Agence France-Presse
Cypriot leaders to meet next week on Green Line in bid to break peace talks impasse

A handout picture released by the Cypriot Press and Information Office (PIO) shows Greek Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades (R) paying respects in front of the coffin of late former Cypriot leader Glafcos Clerides during his funeral on Nov. 18. AFP photo

The Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot leaders meet next week in the buffer zone dividing the island in a bid to break peace talks deadlock, the Greek Cypriot government said on Nov. 21.

The informal talks on Nov. 25 between President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Derviş Eroğlu will be the first time they have met to discuss the peace process which has been dormant for 19 months.

Anastasiades' government said in a statement that he invited Eroğlu after the Turkish Cypriot leader called to pay his respects following the death of Greek Cypriot former president Glafcos Clerides, who was buried on Nov. 18.

Anastasiades wrote to Eroğlu saying: "We are at a critical juncture in the effort to give a decisive push to finally achieve a solution and we need to redouble our efforts to adopt the joint declaration." The two will meet in the presence of U.N. officials at a restaurant on the Green Line to thrash out the terms of a joint statement outlining the objectives of revived Cyprus talks.

Negotiations to reunify Cyprus have stuttered over the wording of a joint statement by the leaders.

The fate of the long-divided Mediterranean island remains one of the major stumbling blocks in Turkey's EU accession negotiations.

Support from EU

Meanwhile, the European Commission approved a new 31 million-euro financial assistance program for the Turkish Cypriot community. The renewed funding is the continuation of a successful EU-funded program which focuses on promoting the economic integration of the island and improving contacts between the two communities and the EU with the overall objective of facilitating reunification, the commission said in a statement.

“This year’s funding will focus on ensuring the sustainability of previous interventions with an emphasis on preparing for EU standards, especially in the areas of wastewater and animal and plant health,” it said. “This renewed funding underlines the commitment and strong support of the European Union to make a difference in the lives of Turkish Cypriots, to help bring the Turkish Cypriot community closer to the EU and to pave the way for reconciliation and the reunification of Cyprus,” said Commissioner Stefan Füle. To date, the EU has allocated more than 380 million euros under the aid program for the Turkish Cypriot community.