Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci met to exchange maps on Wednesday in Geneva as the two sides gear up to tackle the issue of territory.
Apart from territory, a number of other sensitive issues will be addressed with Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot negotiators set to lock horns again over governance, EU and economy.
The two sides were scheduled to table maps on territorial adjustment for the first time with sources claiming that a significant trade-off is needed to produce a win-win situation with Morphou set to play a big part in the bargain.
Any adjustment would modify the now existing ceasefire boundary splitting Cyprus east to west and possibly limit territory under Turkish Cypriot control from about 36 per cent to just under 30 per cent.
Past peace negotiations have seen Turkish Cypriots propose maintaining a geographical area of 29.2 percent, with Greek Cypriots countering it with 28.2 percent.
Anastasiades and Akinci have been engaged in UN-led talks aiming to solve the problem of Cyprus since May 2015. On December 1 2016 they decided that their talks would continue in Geneva from January 9-11, where an international Conference on Cyprus on security and the guarantees will also begin on January 12.
The "best chance" to solve the Cyprus issue is how Special Advisor to the Secretary-General, Espen Barth Eide, qualified the #CyprusTalks which continue at UN Geneva until the end of the day.Watch Mr. Eide brief the press at the Palais des Nations, ahead of tomorrow's #ConferenceOnCyprus, which will also include participation of the guarantor powers.
Publié par UN Geneva sur mercredi 11 janvier 2017
21:20: Anastasiades tweets “The map exchange is a milestone in the history of the Cyprus problem. We will press on in an effort worthy of the expectations of the Cypriot people.”
21:00: Maps have been exchanged between the two sides in compliance with predetermined criteria set in Mont Pelerin. The Turkish Cypriot map was not satisfactory for the Greek Cypriot site and President Anastasiades filed complaint with the UN. Government Spokesman Nicos Christodoulides says this is the first time such an exchange takes place since 1976. Maps locked away in vault at UN Geneva.
20:40: Three simultaneous meetings going on in Geneva. Leaders discuss territory with maps in one room, chief negotiators hammer out governance issues in another room, while team members from both sides discuss EU issues in another room
19:35: Anastasiades and Akinci began closed session meeting with Eide, in the presence of map experts from each community and the UN
19:05: The two Cypriot leaders will attend the start of the Cyprus conference on Thursday morning, in the presence of the UN Secretary General and three guarantor powers, CNA reports
18:25: Setting a fixed date for a referendum is not a prerequisite for the success of the Cyprus conference, but the main point is to establish a political framework, says Baris Burcu
18:02: European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker says “when it’s about peace, you have to take the plane” – Read full story here.
16:59: This from Lefteris Adilinis. Baris Burcu, spokesman for the Turkish Cypriot leader, confirmed that the map Mustafa Akinci will table in the evening will provide 29.2% of territory for Turkish Cypriots after a settlement. He also said that right now working groups on governance and property are meeting in an effort to find convergences. On governance, Turkish Cypriots ask that Turkish nationals have equal treatment with Greek nationals who will stay in Cyprus after a settlement.
16:45: UN Cyprus envoy Espen Barth Eide says this time is the best chance for the divided island’s reunification even though a referendum should not be expected to take place anytime soon. Click here for full story.
16:20: Cyprus conference scheduled to begin Thursday at 11:15am (12:15GC/1:15TC)
15:55: Government Spokesman Nicos Christodoulides called on the media to be cautious of those trying to derail the peace talks. “This is the first time we are on the verge of exchanging maps,” he said, adding there was some progress on the issue of governance and experts will carry on today on other issues.
15:24: This from Lefteris Adilinis. The only scenario in which the Greek Cypriots will not attend the international conference tomorrow (Thursday) is if the Turkish Cypriots do not hand over any map tonight or if they request more than 29.2% to be under Turkish Cypriot control. However, the Greek Cypriots do not expect this to happen.
With regards to governance, there is convergence on a constitution amendment post-settlement. The negotiators are still trying to find common ground over federal competences, the treatment of Turkish nationals and deadlock breaking mechanisms.
15:15: This from Lefteris Adilinis. The Cyprus leaders will meet at 18.45 (Cyprus time) to be briefed by the negotiators on the talks with regards to governance. They will then begin discussions on territory and are expected to begin exchanging maps by the evening.
The Greek Cypriot side have selected the map that they will table but we understand that the Turkish Cypriot side haven’t drafted a final version yet. Their map will be determined by the evening’s discussion. The Greek Cypriots are more or less certain that the Turkish Cypriot map will be 29.2% but, of course, they need to see the exact figure with regards to how many people can return to their properties under Greek Cypriot control.
14:05: UN Special Envoy to Cyprus Espen Barth Eide will give a press conference in Geneva at 3.30pm (Cyprus time)
13:33: Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan are expected to talk by phone later on Wednesday, according to diplomatic sources in Geneva, and could perhaps “talk again” on Thursday morning ahead of the conference.
13:10: Discussions on territory will take place later this afternoon during which time, the Greek Cypriot side and Turkish Cypriot sides are expected to exchange maps. The political party chiefs of the National Council have, according to media reports, advised President Nicos Anastasiades to pull back the Greek Cypriot maps if the Turkish Cypriot maps turn out to be ‘unacceptable’.
The same sources claim that in order for the Turkish Cypriot maps to be accepted, it must secure the return of at least 91,000 Greek Cypriot refugees and more coastline to be under the Greek Cypriot jurisdiction.
13:00: A leaked letter from the head of the Turkish Cypriot coalition, Huseyin Ozgurgun, to Mustafa Akinci calls on the Turkish Cypriot leader to not present any maps unless the Greek Cypriot side first agrees to a rotating presidency.
12:45: A helping hand? A cold shoulder? It’s been a tiring last couple of days for the Cyprus leaders.
12:36: Turkish sources say Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu will arrive in Geneva tonight ahead of the Conference on Cyprus on Thursday.
12:25: When asked about whether there would be an exchange of maps upon his arrival at the Palace of Nations in Geneva this morning, President Nicos Anastasiades said: “I believe so yes. That is what was agreed.”
Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci simply replied “Good morning” when asked by reporters the same question.
11:30: Ruling party (Disy) MP Nicos Tornaritis is cautiously optimistic as talks continue in Geneva.
— Nicos Tornaritis (@nicostornaritis) January 11, 2017
10:52: This from Lefteris Adilinis. The Greek Cypriot negotiating team has been briefed on the Greek Cypriot maps by the Greek Cypriot expert (Senior Land Officer Andreas Hadjiraftis). Hadjiraftis will later brief the political party leaders of the National Council who have accompanied President Nicos Anastasiades to Geneva.
Meanwhile, the negotiators are meeting separately to discuss pending issues on governance while the two Cypriot leaders are continuing their tete-a-tete along with Espan Barth Eide, who is also in attendance.
10:35: This from Lefteris Adilinis. When the two sides put their maps on the table today, experts from each side will first start verifying that all the agreed points from Mont Pelerin are included. There may be, however, some more points to add onto the maps after today’s discussions. Once that is done, UN special advisor Espen Barth Eide will collect the maps and store them away safely.
The Greek Cypriot side doesn’t know and cannot confirm reports from Turkish news agency Anadolu that the maps will be kept in a vault by the UN.
10:18: The meeting between Nicos Anastasiades and Mustafa Akinci is underway in Geneva with UN Special Envoy to Cyprus Espen Barth Eide also in attendance.
10:08: The UK is ready to throw it’s hat into the Conference on Cyprus ring. Britain is one of three guarantors for the island along with Turkey and Greece. All three nations are set to have representatives in attendance for the five-party conference on Thursday.
— UK in Cyprus (@UKinCyprus) January 11, 2017
09:55: This from Lefteris Adilinis. Cyprus and the Cyprus problem have got a rare mention on BBC news with a lengthy piece from Geneva. A BBC crew interviewed Mustafa Akinci about the prospects of success at the Conference of Cyprus starting tomorrow (Thursday). The Turkish Cypriot leader didn’t go into specifics as far as the on-going negotiations are concerned. He instead preferred to focus on the bigger picture, stressing the benefits a federal Cyprus would have, mainly for the island’s youth who – as he puts it – have become “alien in their own country”. He reiterated his belief that this is probably the last chance for a federation.
08:00: Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots united on Tuesday night at the Cetin Kaya football pitch in old Nicosia to call for peace throughout Cyprus and an end to the division. The gathering was organised by trade unions including PEO, the bicommunal initiative for peace – United Cyprus, the Turkish Cypriot Platform for a solution and Peace and more than 120 non-profit organisations and groups from both sides of the divide.
07:55: This from Lefteris Adilinis. Nicos Anastasiades and Mustafa Akinci had a tete-a-tete yesterday evening with only UN Special Envoy to Cyprus Espen Barth Eide present to talk ahead of Wednesday’s expectations and agenda. Akinci promised that he will produce a map providing Turkish Cypriots keep 29.2% of the territory – as he had committed in Mont Pelerin 1 – while he requested, in return, a rotating presidency. Anastasiades, in response, told him that he needed to see the map first and ‘then we will talk’. If they find an understanding on that, then they will go into Thursday’s conference on security on a positive note.