Anastasiades Says No Preconditions for Cyprus Unity Talks Restart

Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades. (Photo by TNH/Kosta Bej, FILE)

NICOSIA – Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades said he’s ready to reboot collapsed Cyprus unity talks even without conditions, with government spokesman Prodromos Prodromou saying a United Nations report on the prospects didn’t say otherwise.

Negotiations between Anastasiades and Turkish-Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci fell apart in July, 2017 at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana when the Turkish side, including President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said they’d never remove an army that’s been on the occupied third since an unlawful invasion in 1974.

It wasn’t clear whether Anastasiades now is willing to talk even if that demand is still on the table with Prodromou telling The Cyprus Mail that the President was not setting preconditions as certain people had suggested; he meant exactly what the SG (UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres) is proposing now, that is, an adviser to test the waters, to determine if readiness really exists,” to go on.

That contradicted what Cyprus’ Humanitarian Affairs Commissioner Photis Photiou said earlier, that the talks could resume, but only on condition Turkey remove its army and drop a demand to militarily intervene – invade – further when it wanted.

“We hope the Turkish side will also display readiness since, as it is known, so far there was no positive response from Anakara to appoint an SG adviser,” Prodromou said. “In any case, our side, the President, is ready,” he said, referring to Turkey’s refusal to accept a new envoy to broker talks.

Turkey, along with Greece and the United Kingdom, the former Colonial ruler which still has a base on the island, are guarantors of security, along with a UN peacekeeping force. Anastasiades wanted an international police force to replace them but Akinci and Erdogan ruled that out.

“I believe there is still scope for the sides to act responsibly and decisively in order to chart a common way forward for the island,” Guterres said in his report, repeating platitudes that gave no specifics after he failed to broker the deal last year and then put out a report blaming nobody for anything.

“In the coming period, I intend to send a senior UN official to conduct in-depth consultations with the parties. The consultations will provide a more formal, structured, and detailed channel for the parties to convey to the UN the outcomes of their reflection since Crans-Montana and to help determine whether conditions have or have not matured at this stage for a meaningful process. I encourage the parties to recognize the importance of this exercise and to seize the opportunity accordingly,” he said.

He said that should the sides jointly decide to resume talks, the six-point framework that he had introduced in Crans-Montana could form the basis for negotiations although the talks are being kept secret from citizens on both sides of the island.

The framework contained elements related to territory, political equality, property, equivalent treatment, and security and guarantees but hasn’t helped bring resolution to a problem that has evaded answers despite the intervention of a long line of failed diplomats.

Speaking at a memorial at the church in Meneou for those who fell in 1974 and are still missing from Kontea, Photiou said the island cannot go on under today’s “unacceptable situation” of occupation, the paper reported.

He said he hoped “Turkey would cooperate to solve the humanitarian problem of the missing, taking on the huge responsibilities it has. Most families of the missing continue to have no news of their loved ones. “Time is now the biggest enemy for the missing,” he added.

“We are ready anytime to continue the negotiations where they left off last July,” Photiou continued.