Cypriots inch toward blueprint for peace
ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Turkey and Greece have already agreed for cross talks to be carried out by simultaneous visits of Turkish Cypriot representatives to Athens and Greek Cypriot representatives to Ankara. CİHAN photoA joint statement that could start long-awaited reunification talks in Cyprus is nearing completion, with hopes that Turkish and Greek Cypriot leaders will officially launch the process within days.
“Reunification talks can be launched at any time. There is a minor problem with regard to the joint statement, but we hope it will soon be overcome,” a senior Turkish diplomat told the Hürriyet Daily News yesterday. The progress was also confirmed by a Western diplomat closely following the preparation process for the joint statement, saying: “The drafted statement is a good one. We hope it’s going to create a very good basis for talks.”
The official statement is expected from Alexander Downer, the United Nations’ special envoy for Cyprus, if both parties give the green light for the joint statement.
Turkish and Greek Cypriots have been negotiating over the statement for the last three months as the latter’s pre-condition to start negotiations. Greek Cyprus’ insistence at putting some very significant and key aspects of a potential settlement into the blueprint has delayed the agreement but two sides were able to recently narrow their differences.
Single sovereignty, citizenship and single international representation were the Greek Cypriot priorities, while the Turkish side pressed to include a timeframe for talks in order not to have them open-ended. The Greek Cypriot leadership, however, has no intention of limiting the duration of talks.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu exchanged phone calls with his American and British counterparts, John Kerry and William Hague, respectively, on Dec. 10 to discuss the developments regarding the Cypriot negotiations.
“Both countries’ interest and attention regarding the prospected talks are rising. The United States is closely following and the United Kingdom is the guarantor country. They are getting more involved and it would lend impetus,” the Turkish diplomat said. Western powers and the European Union are also hoping that the two parties will return to the negotiation table to resolve the nearly four-decade-old problem.
Turkish Cypriots plan to complete negotiations in the first quarter of 2014 and to put the peace plan to a referendum in the spring, 50 years after the U.N. issued its first resolution on Cyprus.
Davutoğlu to Athens, Nicosia
Davutoğlu’s itinerary this week includes trips to Athens tomorrow and to Nicosia on Dec. 14, when he will evaluate the upcoming Cypriot talks with his Greek counterpart, Evangelos Venizelos.
Turkey and Greece have already agreed for cross talks to be carried out by simultaneous visits of Turkish Cypriot representatives to Athens and Greek Cypriot representatives to Ankara. Although it was originally a Greek idea, it has not yet been realized due to internal problems in Greece.
“We expect that these cross talks will take place after the official launch of talks. If talks can begin this week, then these visits can be staged in two weeks’ time,” another Western diplomat said.