By Annie Charalambous
President Nicos Anastasiades has said “encouraging progress” was recorded on chapters currently under discussion in the UN-brokered Cyprus peace process aiming to reunite the divided island.
But he also warned that significant chapters have not been discussed yet and it would be premature to draw safe conclusions at this stage.
“At the moment, there is progress, encouraging progress on what is under discussion,” Anastasiades told journalists in Nicosia after talks with Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci.
“However, the total set of issues to be discussed is nine, therefore no one can draw safe conclusions from the progress recorded on the current stage of the negotiations…significant chapters have not been discussed yet,” he added.
In the meantime, the leaders have agreed to meet six times before the end of July to move on with the talks aiming to reunite Cyprus under a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation.
“(Only) Six July meetings have been agreed, due to events, due to religious celebrations of Turkish Cypriots, due to the July 15 to 20 events (1974 coup in Nicosia followed by Turkey’s invasion), due to other commitments by our side,” Anastasiades said.
Yesterday’s four-hour-long meeting under the auspices of UN Cyprus envoy Espen Barth Eide focused again on the competencies of the central government and those of the constituent states.
Discussion will also touch on the federal government’s competencies to conclude international treaties and on the issue of cooperation agreements between the federal state and the constituent states.
“Let’s hope that, gradually, through the intensive dialogue we have agreed to undertake, we will reach an overall agreement that will be acceptable to both communities,” the President said.
Asked to clarify whether the Turkish Cypriot side insisted on having the power to sign agreements on issues beyond education, culture and sports, Anastasiades said the matter was being discussed.
“I think the discussion is going in the right direction,” he said.
He also clarified that there was a separate discussion on federal competences between the two chief negotiators and their teams, upon instructions by the leaders.
The negotiators, Andreas Mavroyiannis for the Greek Cypriot side and Ozdil Nami for the Turkish Cypriot, will also have a meeting today.
Asked about international treaties, the President said that a separate discussion will be held, to review those that may contradict with Cyprus’ EU membership.
“It is too early to talk about it at the moment,” he said.
Tuesday’s scheduled meeting between the two leaders was postponed at the request of Anastasiades due to a massive fire sparked on Sunday over the Troodos mountain range.
An offer by Turkey – through Akinci – to also assist in the international effort never materialised due to Ankara’s refusal to have its aircraft placed under the Republic’s command.