NICOSIA – With the toughest issues over Cyprus’ lagging reunification talks unresolved, Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish-Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci may move the negotiations to Switzerland.
The biggest obstacle remains what to do with the properties in the occupied northern territory seized by Turks who don’t want to give them up.
The two have set an end-of-the-year deadline for ending 41 years of division caused by an unlawful Turkish invasion in 1974, in a bid to make it happen before UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon gives up his office after joining a long list of other diplomats who’ve failed to solve the dilemma.
The two met Oct. 24 but made essentially no progress although Anastasiades said that they discussed details of how “the various, either freedoms or rights, would be implemented. There was, I must say, relative progress, which needs further discussion,” the Cyprus Mail reported.
“We focused on the essence of what we had before us, rather than determining the location (for carrying out the meetings on territorial issues),” he said, adding that it might happen on Oct. 26 as they keep pushing back estimates of resolving issues.
Asked on what dates the territorial issues would be discussed, the president answered “on the 7 to the 11 of November, and likely in Switzerland,” he said. Anastasiades said they have to leave the country to talk to avoid leaks about their discussions.
They haven’t yet talked about the territorial issue although Anastasiades said the occupied town of Morphou has to be returned to Cyprus, which the Turkish side has rejected outright.
Akinci claims it would not be easy to return the area, which has been substantially developed in recent years, the newspaper said, although it could be a deal-breaker if unresolved.
The extent of territorial concessions – how much of the Turkish-occupied part of the island is to be returned to the Cypriot side, will decide the outcome of the issue of properties.
The more displaced Greek Cypriots are allowed to return to their homes under Greek Cypriot administration, the less will need to be paid out as compensation for lost properties.
The date allows for a few additional sessions between Anastasiades and Akinci in Cyprus, ahead of the transfer of the talks in Switzerland.