By Lefteris Adilinis, Reporting from Geneva
Cyprus leaders Nicos Anastasiades and Mustafa Akinci need to employ all their diplomatic potency and negotiating skills if they are to end Wednesday’s big meeting in Geneva on a positive note and ease their way to Thursday’s multi-party Conference on Cyprus on the thorny issue of security.
The two sides are scheduled to table maps on territorial adjustment for the first time on Wednesday morning. Insiders told the Cyprus Weekly/in-cyprus.com that a significant trade-off is needed to produce a win-win situation.
The negotiating teams they were tight-lipped on the issue, but diplomatic sources were saying progress would mean Greek Cypriots making a big concession on governance, such as accepting a rotating presidency, and Turkish Cypriots agreeing to place the Morphou area under Greek Cypriot control.
There is no certainty that such a development will take place tomorrow, however. Anastasiades and Akinci had a tete-a-tete on Tuesday night to review today’s talks and also discuss tomorrow’s crucial meeting on territory. Either way, our sources insisted that something substantial has to happen in order for the three-day intensive talks to produce some tangible results prior to the international conference.
Foreign Ministers are coming
Diplomatic sources confirmed that the foreign ministers of Turkey, Greece and Britain will attend the Conference on Thursday. Insiders who talked to the Cyprus Weekly/in-cyprus.com have noted that on the issue of security, only the Greek Cypriot proposal is on the table. This proposal suggests the establishment of an international force to guarantee the post-settlement security of the island. Greece and Turkey have not tabled anything in writing, so there is very little hope that on Thursday or even on Friday 13 January any agreement on security can be reached between the guarantors and the two sides.
Our sources say the Conference on Cyprus will be held even if there is no convergence on the difficult issues discussed between the two sides today. The only prerequisite is the tabling of maps. There is an understanding that both sides will submit maps in order not to derail the conference. At the same time, however, there is no indication that the maps would be deemed sufficient for reaching a deal on the territorial adjustment question.
Meetings on all levels
Tuesday saw the two sides hold various meetings in an attempt to achieve progress on governance, property, economy and EU affairs. The two teams were labouring until late into the night trying to close the economy and EU chapters, where the remaining differences are very small.
In the afternoon the negotiators Andreas Mavroyiannis and Ozdil Nami had a separate meeting with experts from both sides to discuss aspects of governance. We understand that the teams still disagree on the deadlock-breaking mechanism in case of disagreement. This is considered essential because of the breakdown of the power-sharing arrangements in the early 1960s. The Greek Cypriots put forward some new proposals and expect the Turkish Cypriots to respond on Wednesday.
Greek Cypriot sources insist that the two sides have not discussed the Turkish Cypriot request to apply the system of a rotating presidency in a reunited Cyprus. We understand that the issue was not discussed in the end during the official meetings in Geneva. Diplomats, however, believe that Anastasiades will accept rotating presidency if he gets something important on territory or guarantees.
The working groups on property also met on Tuesday, trying to iron out differences on issues such as emotional attachment to a property and substantial improvement of a property, both linked to who has first say: the initial owner or the current user. Turkish Cypriot sources said some progress was achieved, but an important aspect remains open.
The two sides disagree on how to treat people from the Turkish mainland (“settlers”) and foreigners who occupy or have acquired Greek Cypriot properties. The Greek Cypriot side insists that Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots owners or users should be treated differently. The Turkish Cypriot side wants all current users to be treated equally. We understand that agreement on this would affect all other aspects of the property issue.