ATHENS — The president of Cyprus met with Greece's Prime Minister on Wednesday before informal talks to be held in Switzerland next week.
The Geneva talks will be attended by representatives of Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots, the three guarantor powers — Greece, Turkey and the United Kingdom — and the United Nations. They come after a hiatus of more than three years in negotiations aiming to resolve the island's decades-long division.
Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades described the Geneva meeting as an "important ... new effort" that would allow U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres to gauge whether there is enough common ground to restart formal peace talks.
"We are not trying to usurp anyone's rights. Our effort is to find a way for both communities [on the island of Cyprus] to feel safe and for the human rights of both communities to be guaranteed," the President of the Republic of Cyprus Nicos Anastasiades said on Wednesday after the meeting with Mitsotakis at the Maximos Mansion in Athens.
Anastasiades described as important "the effort made by the UN Secretary General after 3.5 years to convene the conference to look into the issue in order to have a dialogue and solve the problem". He also agreed that "the framework to be negotiated is determined by the UN resolutions, the decisions of the UN Security Council, as well as the principles and values of the European Union, and were last set out in the efforts to resume the 2019 dialogue in Berlin in the presence of the UN Secretary General and Mr. Akinci."
Solution for Cyprus can be found only in the context of a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation
In a discussion held before their meeting in Athens, the Greek Prime Minister noted that the context of the discussions that will take place in Geneva is absolutely clear as "it is based on all previous decisions of the [United Nation's] Security Council."
"The solution can be found only in the context of a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation, a single sovereignty, a single citizenship, a single international representation and, of course, with the withdrawal of the occupying armies, but also the elimination of the anachronistic framework of guarantees," Mitsotakis underlined.
"It is absolutely clear that we must be able to determine in these difficult discussions what is the starting point from which we begin. That is why today, as we did in Cyprus, we will be given the opportunity to coordinate our actions in view of these demanding discussions, to which we always come with a good will to find a solution that will be fair, functional and viable and will benefit all Cypriots, both Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots."
The foreign ministers of Greece and Cyprus were also taking part in the meeting at the Maximos Mansion.
Cyprus has been split into an internationally recognized Greek Cypriot south and a breakaway Turkish Cypriot north since a 1974 Turkish invasion sparked by a coup to unite the island with Greece. The breakaway state in the north is recognized only by Turkey, which doesn't recognize the government in the south. Numerous rounds of U.N. mediated peace talks since have failed to reunite the island.
The last push for a peace deal came in mid-2017 but ended acrimoniously. It also led to an apparent shift in the stated aim of Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots from reunifying the country as a federation of Greek and Turkish speaking zones to a two-state deal.
Greece and the internationally recognized Cypriot government in the south are adamant they wouldn't accept a two-state solution formalizing the country's partition.
The talks come at a time of frosty relations between Greece and Turkey over maritime boundaries and energy exploration rights in the Mediterranean.