Cypriot negotiators pay historic visits to guarantor countries

Cypriot negotiators pay historic visits to guarantor countries

ANKARA – Hürriyet Daily News
Cypriot negotiators pay historic visits to guarantor countries

Greek Cypriot negotiator Andreas Mavroyiannis (4rd L) was in Ankara yesterday to hold talks with Turkish Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Feridun Sinirlioğlu. AA Photo

Two negotiators, one from Turkish Cyprus and the other from Greek Cyprus, visited the capital cities of guarantor powers Turkey and Greece on Feb. 27 to hold meetings on the fresh reunification talks.

The parties decided to keep up the reciprocal meetings of negotiators to the capitals, parallel to negotiation talks on the island.

Negotiator Andreas Mavroyiannis and two others from the negotiation team for the Greek Cypriot side held a talk with Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Feridun Sinirlioğlu, while Turkish Cypriot negotiator Kudret Özersay held meetings with the secretary-general of the Greek Foreign Ministry simultaneously in Athens.  Mavroyiannis will leave Ankara on Feb. 28.

The meeting was “a positive beginning,” a Turkish diplomat familiar with the talks said, noting particularly the “psychological influence” of these mutual meetings was important.

The parallel meetings were essential with regard to gaining momentum on the Cyprus talks, which aim for a reunification of the island, according to the diplomat.

Prior to the meetings, the Greek Cypriot side expressed their will to push forward a proposal for the transfer of the closed city of Varosha (Maraş) to the United Nations. Varosha is a former luxury district in Famagusta that has been closed since Turkey held an intervention in 1974. The Greek Cypriot side has been floating the idea as part of a parallel move towards confidence-building measures to help the talks move forward, while the Turkish side insists the fenced-off ghost town would be part of the negotiations.

The issue of Varosha can only be part of a comprehensive settlement on the island, a Turkish Foreign Ministry official said. The issue has been raised several times before and involves the Turkish side handing back Famagusta’s Varosha suburb to Greek Cypriots in exchange for some Greek Cypriot confidence-building offers to Turkish Cypriots.

Meanwhile, some EU member countries raised the idea of at least dispatching a U.N. team to Varosha to carry out an examination as a preparatory step for a future opening of the city.