Anastasiades, Akinci Struggle to Find Common Ground for Cyprus Unity Talks

FILE - Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades signs a declaration during an EU summit meeting at the Orazi and Curiazi Hall in the Palazzo dei Conservatori in Rome on Saturday, March 25, 2017. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

NICOSIA – The resumption of Cyprus’ collapsed unity talks is sputtering from the get-go with Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish-Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci unable to agree on how to proceed.

The two leaders will discuss how the negotiations process will continue when they meet on May 17 but they are more likely to point in “a direction” for the talks rather than a definitive next step, government spokesman Nicos Christodoulides said.

Christodoulides, speaking on public broadcaster Cybc, said if there was to be a continuation of the negotiations in Geneva, Switzerland again would involve not just the leaders but also the guarantor powers of Greece, the United Kingdom and Turkey, which said it won’t remove its army and wants the right to invade again when it wants.

Anastasiades has said he is not opposed to a new Geneva conference if enough preparation is done in advance. “I do not think that on the 17th there will be a decision, but there may be a direction for how the process will proceed,” Christodoulides said, echoing similar previous vague statements which produced essentially nothing.

“We will see what the leaders decide and also what are the positions of Greece, Turkey and the United Nations,” he added.

Referring to the letter Anastasiades sent to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres about Turkey’s threats to Cyprus’ drilling program, along with some criticisms of UN Special Envoy Espen Barth Eide, the spokesman said the government had not received a reply.