No position change for Turkish side on Cyprus conference parameters

No position change for Turkish side on Cyprus conference parameters

Sevil Erkuş - ANKARA
No position change for Turkish side on Cyprus conference parameters

AFP photo

U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres will meet with Turkish and Cypriot leaders on June 4 to try to resolve the deadlock between the two sides in reunification talks on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus. 

The U.N. aims to pave the way for an international conference involving the three guarantors of the island’s sovereignty - Britain, Greece and Turkey - that could achieve progress in remaining core issues.

In a meeting with the U.N. Special Advisor for Cyprus Espen Barth Eide on May 30, Ankara pledged that the Turkish side is loyal to the framework of parameters determined at the start of negotiations, a Turkish official told the Hürriyet Daily News. 

“According to the negotiation modality agreed at the very beginning, none of the negotiation topics are assumed to be closed before the parties agree on the entire topic. We have assured Eide that the Turkish side is loyal to the original process regarding negotiation modalities for a planned international conference,” the official said.

Eide was meeting with Turkish officials after travelling to Athens and Ankara last week to try to rescue the peace process. 

In his statements hours after meeting with the U.N. envoy, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu stressed that Ankara is ready to participate in a Cyprus conference to be held in Geneva if it is convened again “without pre-conditions.” 

A U.N. drive to hold a crunch Cyprus peace conference in Geneva collapsed last week, leaving the future of two years of talks on reunifying the island in limbo.

The dispute erupted when Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades proposed discussion of the issues of security guarantees and territory before going to the planned international conference. Anastasiades said they had been able to move forward on governance, distribution of power, economy and property issues, but there was no need to continue discussing these topics if there was no progress on security and territory issues.  

However the Turkish side, along with the U.N. advisor, insisted on concluding the security guarantees issue first and then the territory issue, followed by the other four chapters.

Turkish side urges that all headings should be discussed together in an interdependent manner and that the final decision on territory and security chapters will be taken at an international conference with participation of the guarantor powers. 

Elaborating on the condition that Anastasiades put forward, Eide earlier said the Greek Cypriot proposal for a so-called “change of method” created a serious problem. 

“The conference could continue with its original form and I think it would be much better if we followed the way planned at the very beginning,” he stated. 

The two sides have been engaged in fragile peace talks since May 2015, which observers see as the best chance in years to reunify the island. Much of the progress until now has been based on the strong personal rapport between Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akıncı, but recently a negative attitude has been observed between the leaders.

Anastasiades faces re-election in February, a factor complicating the talks process.

The eastern Mediterranean island has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops intervened in response to an Athens-inspired coup seeking union with Greece.