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Trade-offs on the horizon

Greek and Turkish Cypriot negotiating teams seem to agree that peace talks have reached the stage where major political decisions need to be taken in order to reach the end game.

Senior diplomatic sources told the Cyprus Weekly that negotiators consider feasible a move toward a final give-and-take session.

“People are nervous, a decisive trade-off is visible and each side is trying to get maximum gains before they get there”, an insider said.

Getting to the end game, though, is not that simple.

The two leaders, and particularly President Nicos Anastasiades, need to make sure that there is a clear direction for compromise on thorny issues.

“The Greek Cypriots cannot embark in a give-and-take session without being certain that Turkey will open up on the security and guarantee aspect of the problem,” an experienced diplomat said.

Turkey’s move

The Cyprus Weekly understands that the Greek Cypriot side believes that now is the time for Turkey to indicate positions on the following fundamental aspects of the problem:

  • Security and guarantees framework
  • Settlers
  • Maps for territorial adjustments
  • Financing a Cyprus deal
  • Speedy implementation of the solution

The above are purely political issues that can only be dealt with at the leaders’ level and with direct or indirect contact with Ankara.

They are interrelated aspects of the political problem. Property and finance directly depend on the territorial adjustments, whereas the percentage of the land returned and the implementation timescale could influence a final agreement on governance, settlers and gua-rantees.

In view of decisive trade-offs, the sides appear to have hardened their positions, especially on territory and security in an effort to get to the big table with as many gains as possible.

This, however, is considered to be a high-risk strategy. Bad handling of the situation could derail the process.

Money talks

Getting the necessary funds to finance a settlement has finally moved up on the Cyprus talk’s agenda. The pre-sence and input of IMF and World Bank representatives has helped Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot teams to realise the difficult task ahead.

The challenge now is to find workable provisions on territorial adjustments in order to minimise the funds needed for property compensation.

Also people have realised that the bulk of the money won’t come from donations but from borrowing, a development that could increase the debt of a reunified federal Cyprus and consequently its obligations to international lenders.

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