NICOSIA — The chief negotiator for Greek Cypriots in ethnically-split Cyprus says next week’s meeting between the rival Greek and Turkish Cypriot leaders aims to pave the way for a full resumption of stalled reunification talks.
Andreas Mavroyiannis told The Associated Press in an interview April 12 that the United Nations-hosted meeting doesn’t signal a formal talks resumption.
But he said it’s vital that the island nation’s Greek Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and breakaway Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci find “common ground” on rekindling the process.
Mavroyiannis said it’s hoped that renewed talks could reach a “strategic agreement” on some pivotal issues by autumn. Negotiations would continue on other matters needing more time to resolve.
Offshore exploratory drilling — that Turkish Cypriots oppose without their say — is set to restart around October.
Ahead of an informal dinner with Turkish-Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci next week, Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades is due to meet April 13 with the United Nation’s new Cyprus envoy Elizabeth Spehar, with hopes that broken off reunification negotiations could restart.
Spehar will host a dinner for Anastasiades and Akinci on April 16 at her residence inside the Nicosia buffer zone, said Kathimerini, the first time the rival leaders will meet since unity talks collapsed in July, 2017 at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana.
That was because Turkey insisted on keeping an army on the island and the right to militarily intervene, which it still does, leaving open how that obstacle could be surmounted with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan saying he will never back down.
The dinner date is not expected to lead to the resumption of UN-led reunification talks but is aimed at trying to regain some trust before, or if, talks could resume, the paper said.
Turkey has occupied the northern third of the island since an unlawful 1974 invasion and a long line of diplomats, envoys and politicians haven’t been able to put it back together again.