Anastasiades Briefs Macron, Merkel On Coming Cyprus Unity Talks Restart

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, right, speaks with Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades during a round table meeting at an EU Summit in Brussels on Friday, June 23, 2017. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)

BRUSSELS – Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades gave French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel the lowdown on the Cyprus unity talks with are due to begin again June 28 in the Swiss venue of Crans-Montana, and said he had the European Union’s support in the showdown with Turkish-Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci.

The Turkish side doesn’t want to remove its 35,000-strong standing army in the northern third it has occupied since an unlawful 1974 invasion, and wants the right to militarily intervene when it wants.

Anastasiades briefed the EU leaders on the sidelines of a meeting in Brussels about the so-called common document set to be used in the talks which had collapsed earlier over the Turkish demands about its army and security guarantees.

Government spokesman Christodoulides told reporters that Macron and Merkel shared the government’s position that in the year 2017, we cannot be talking about guarantees by third countries, or occupation troops staying on in an EU-member state.”

Turkey, along with Greece and the United Kingdom – the former Colonial ruler still keeps a base on the island – are guarantors of security but Anastasiades earlier suggested using an international police force instead, similar to United Nations peacekeepers there now.

“There is increased interest in developments in the region, and it was agreed that these contacts with the French President and the German Chancellor continue in the near future,” the spokesman said, the Cyprus Mail reported.

On June 23, Anastasiades was set to meet with British Prime Minister Theresa May, and later with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.

Greek Cypriot chief negotiator Andreas Mavroyiannis briefed some of Cyprus’ other party leaders about the document, including EDEK leader Marinos Sizopoulos and Solidarity’s Eleni Theocharous after it was delivered to him and Turkish-Cypriot negotiator Odil Nami by the UN Special Envoy Espen Barth Eide.

“This document is named ‘common’, but common it is not,” Sizopoulos said, adding that it contained “very negative elements,” The Mail reported.

“It was prepared by Eide, and our side is expected to submit its views. But what happens if our suggestions are not accepted? Does our side reject it? Does it attend the conference or not?” Sizopoulos said.

After being briefed by Mavroyiannis, Theocharous called the document a “façade for Turkish positions”.

“We saw the document but did not receive it,” she said. “Although it supposedly records the views of the Greek and Turkish Cypriot sides, and references the views of Greece, Turkey, and the United Kingdom, in reality it reflects the Turkish positions.”

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is expected to attend the Conference on Cyprus in Crans-Montana on June 30, the Cyprus News Agency said, but it was unclear whether he will participate or observe.

The meetings are being held in secret in Switzerland instead of in Cyprus in a bid to prevent news leaks and as Anastasiades and Akinci haven’t revealed to Cypriots whose lives would be affected by any decision what’s going on.