Anastasiades-Akinci talks "failed to outline concrete steps"
Sunday’s territorial talks between Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci failed to outline concrete steps to resolve the dispute, a diplomatic source told Anadolu Agency on Monday.
“The Greek Cypriot and the Greek side’s failure to take a clear stance on issues to which the guarantor countries, including Turkey, Greece and the UK could agree, brought the negotiations to a bottleneck,” the source, who declined to be named due to restrictions on talking to the media, reportedly said.
Anastasiades and Akinci are trying to reach a final agreement that could see the island reunified after four decades of division during the last round of talks in mid-December.
During the current round of Swiss talks on Sunday, territorial changes were not discussed; however, guarantees had topped the agenda, the AA source added.
DECLINED TO SHAKE HANDS
Akinci and Anastasiades had met in Mont Pelerin for the first round of talks between November 7 to 11; they returned on Sunday for a two-day visit to tackle the territorial adjustments needed for an anticipated two-state federation, however, the two leaders had declined to shake hands for photographers at the start of their latest talks, AA reported.
The issue of territory is seen as one of the most intractable on the agenda.
Although the two leaders are said to have come close to agreeing the amount of territory that should be run by the Turkish Cypriot government, there are still disputes over which towns and villages should be included.
Any agreement will mean redrawing existing boundaries and potentially moving thousands of residents from their current homes, 42 years after many were displaced when the island was first split.
If a deal is reached on territorial changes, negotiators are expected to announce a date for a final summit between the Turkish and Greek Cypriot leaders and the three guarantor powers involved in the process: Turkey, Greece, and the UK.
That meeting will focus on security, particularly the presence of 30,000 Turkish troops that remain in the island’s occupied areas after the 1974 Turkish invasion.
The leaders are said to be close on the percentage of territory to be governed under Turkish Cypriot jurisdiction, with Akinci suggesting 29.2 per cent and the Greek Cypriots proposing 28 per cent.
The sticking point is which towns and villages come within those boundaries. Anastasiades wants the once Greek Cypriot town of Morphou – currently in the occupied areas – returned, but Akıncı has said he will not countenance a deal that would see its 18,000 Turkish Cypriot residents uprooted a second time, reported Hurriyet Daily News.
Turkish Cypriots insist on Turkey maintaining its right to intervene militarily – a notion the Republic of Cyprus flatly rejects.
“IT CAN GO EITHER WAY”
Seen by experts as the last best chance to reunify Cyprus, the make-or-break discussions in Switzerland could lead to a multi-billion-euro deal or scupper prospects of solving one of the world’s longest-running political problems.
“It can go either way since there are still substantial differences. But they are clearly in the final phase of the talks,” Hubert Faustmann, History and Political Science Professor at the University of Nicosia, told AFP.
“Security guarantees and the question of a Turkish base on the island will be the final issues to be addressed,” according to Faustmann.