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Chess games at Geneva II

By Lefteris Adilinis

A crucial game of chess with an unpredictable outcome is how diplomatic sources see the upcoming second Conference for Cyprus on June 28 in Geneva.

Talks are expected to start with the thorny security and guarantees aspect of the political problem. And the outcome of negotiations on security between the two sides of the island, guarantor powers – Turkey, Greece and Britain – as well as the EU as an observer, will make or break the current peace process.

It will determine whether the Conference will proceed to tackle the other five chapters or if the talks for a settlement will collapse. An agreed document, prepared by UN envoy Espen Barth Eide, will guide the discussion at Geneva.

Ankara’s view

Turkey’s position on guarantees and troop presence on the island are considered to be paramount for success or failure in Geneva.

The Cyprus Weekly understands that Ankara intends, as it has roughly indicated to UN and other interlocutors, to table the following positions.

  • A new security blueprint for a federal Cyprus
  • Withdrawal of 80% of its troops and army personnel from the island
  • Maintain the right to intervene in the Turkish Cypriot constituent state, only after a call or invitation by the Turkish Cypriot administration
  • Review of the above after a certain period (expected to be defined at the Conference).

Commenting on the above positions, Greek Cypriot insiders have pointed out that they represent a clear movement from Turkey’s initial position that guarantees in a reunited Cyprus should continue unchanged.

At the same time, we are told that Ankara has not moved far enough for Greek Cypriots to accept such a security blueprint in a referendum.

Greek Cypriot position

The Cyprus Weekly understands that RoC President Nicos Anastasiades is willing to discuss a new security blueprint provided it changes substantially the relevant 1960 treaties.

  • The Guarantors’ unilateral right to intervene in Cyprus should be abolished from the first day of a settlement
  • The bulk of Turkish troops currently stationed on the island (estimated from 30,000 – 40,000) should withdraw immediately
  • A percentage of the current force could remain up to a certain period (i.e. until the completion of the federal government’s first mandate) provided troops do not have intervention rights and there is a clear date set for withdrawal.

Given the diverse positions of the two sides optimism of reaching a security deal in Geneva is low.

The Conference is expected to open on June 28 in the presence of UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, Anastasiades, Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci, the Foreign Ministers of Turkey, Greece and Britain, as well as a European Commission high-ranking official.

At the start, security discussions will involve Eide, leaders of the Guarantor powers (Tayyip Erdogan, Alexis Tsipras and Theresa May), European Commission President Jean Claude Juncker and the Cypriot leaders.

The Conference will be open-ended, provided there is progress on guarantees.

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