Plans and preparations are under way to identify areas of possible trade-offs for when the Greek and Turkish Cypriot sides finally return to the negotiating table, diplomatic sources told the Cyprus Weekly.
UNSG special adviser on Cyprus Espen Barth Eide believes that he can get the teams back to negotiations after the April 19 elections for the Turkish Cypriot leadership. Based on recent polls in the north, incumbent leader Dervis Eroglu looks set to be re-elected.
In the meantime, the UN’s and President Anastasiades’ teams are making plans on the assumption that Eroglu will remain the interlocutor for the Turkish Cypriot side.
Diplomats told the Cyprus Weekly that work has already started to refine plans first made by the UN in October.
The work will draw on the February 11 2014 joint declaration, which pledged to put “all unresolved core issues” on the table, to be discussed interdependently.
Expectations are that the following areas will be considered.
Governance and land: Return of land under Greek Cypriot control is an essential objective for the Greek Cypriot side,which is very keen to discuss territorial adjustments in return for more substantive Turkish Cypriot participation in the Federal Government structure. This is a basic objective of Turkish Cypriots, who want “visibility” in central government.
Territory and property: Another apparent area for trade-offs. If Greek Cypriots get back more land, more displaced people can return to their homes. As a result, the Turkish Cypriot side could get closer to its objective for a land and population majority in their constituent state. Exchanges or other arrangements could also take place with regard to Greek Cypriot properties that will remain under Turkish Cypriot control and vice versa.
Maps and natural gas: While remaining a subject for the end of negotiations, there may be efforts to build on Anastasiades’ proposal that the allocation of funds from the exploitation of natural gas resources be discussed as soon as the Turkish Cypriot side produce maps for settling the territorial issue.
Security: Of utmost importance to both sides. Negotiators will leave security until the end of the process, as any exchange would involve guarantees related to military presence on the island.
In his interview with the Cyprus Weekly last week, President Anastasiades indicated that talks could start in April after the elections, whilst also making clear to that he will only resume negotiations if and when Turkey withdraws the seismic ship Barbaros from Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone and does not renew its maritime notice to that effect.
Anastasiades also wants the EU to take a more active role in peace talks.
He raised the issue on Wednesday during a meeting in Brussels with European Council President Donald Tusk.
A government source told the Cyprus Weekly that Nicosia believes the EU should give Cyprus the same importance as the Ukraine crisis and organise summits similar to Wednesday’s meeting in Minsk, where the leaders of Germany, France, Russia and Ukraine wrangled out a peace deal.