Cyprus talks at ‘critical point,’ says Turkey's foreign minister

Cyprus talks at ‘critical point,’ says Turkey's foreign minister

Cansu Çamlıbel ATHENS - Hürriyet
Cyprus talks at ‘critical point,’ says Turkeys foreign minister

Foreign Minister Davutoğlu (L) meets Venizelos in Athens. AFP photo

Talks to resolve the decades-old problems in Cyprus are fast approaching a critical juncture, according to Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu.

“We are not talking about a partial solution. The Cyprus issue is in such a state that all has been debated, and we have arrived at a critical point,” Davutoğlu said while he was on an official visit to Greece. “From here on, you either show a political will to move toward a solution or you just say that this isn’t working out. The United Nations is at a similar point as well.”

Davutoğlu attended a series of meetings during his time in Athens, including talks with Greek Prime Minister Antonios Samaras and Greek Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos. The visit came as part of a recently intensified Cyprus initiative on Turkey’s part, which has garnered support from the United States, the United Kingdom and the United Nations.

Davutoğlu exchanged phone calls with his U.S. and British counterparts, John Kerry and William Hague, respectively, on Dec. 10 to discuss the developments regarding the Cypriot negotiations prior to his Athens visit, with both officials expressing interest and attention in the talks, according to a Turkish diplomat.

“Right now, both sides are trying to meet on a common negotiating position. The United States and the United Kingdom are both involved. This initiative started for a declaration of a beginning, but now serious work is being put into the real thing,” Davutoğlu said.

“[Greece and Turkey] are working on a text that reflects a summary of all previous negotiations. There could be developments regarding that text in the next couple of days. If that happens, both sides will begin talking about a solution. Then as I and [Greek Foreign Minister] Venizelos agreed upon in New York, their negotiators can come over to us, and ours could go over to them,” the foreign minister said.

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 the 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.

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.