Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades concludes a week-long diplomatic offensive in New York and Washington in an effort to drum up support for his plan to revive the stalled peace talks and lure Turkey back to the negotiating table.
Anastasiades met with leaders and foreign ministers of members of the United Nations Security Council as well as other key players in Europe and the Middle East, utilizing every available moment for a quick word or a polite handshake, pushing the message that he is serious about restarting talks to reunify the island.
But he drew a red line on a recent Turkish demand for Cyprus to share its potential natural resources among both the Greek and Cypriot communities, which Anastasiades stated clearly was out of the question, at least not until after a solution.
He praised Turkey’s willingness to accept the Greek Cypriot negotiator, Andreas Mavroyiannis, in Ankara some time next month, while the ambassador’s Turkish Cypriot counterpart, Osman Ertug, is expected to visit Athens.
Anastasiades referred in his first address to the General Assembly 68th session on Thursday to the proposal for the return of the fenced-off area of the occupied ghost town of Famagusta and the use of its port by the Turkish Cypriots for exports to EU countries.
The President said he believes this would help build confidence, proving that the two communities on the island could coexist peacefully in conditions of prosperity and peace.
In return, Cyprus would help ease the objections to Turkey’s EU membership aspirations and expects Turkey to open up its ports and airports to Cyprus-flag vessels and aircraft, a long-standing wish of the European Union and Commission that, alas, never became a demand for fear of not upsetting Ankara.
At a post-General Assembly press briefing, Anastasiades said that “Security Council powers are not merely good listeners but are making an effort as regards the Cyprus issue.”
“We are doing our outmost with a view of creating a new dynamic and of giving the negotiation process the necessary boost,” he said, adding that in view of the fact that there was a change in tone both in his address and that of the Turkish President Abdullah Gul, “we are trying hard to cooperate, to find ways of opening new avenues of communication which will likely lead us to a successful conclusion.”
Anastasiades said he is determined and he has a vision to see his country reunified, creating a ‘win-win situation’ for all Cypriot citizens, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots.
“The message must be conveyed that this time we are serious about things, that we will not merely repeat ourselves, we will not enter talks for the sake of talks and we will not follow the path of a blame game.”
Replying to questions on when his proposal on Varosha could be implemented, he said that if it was up to him it could start “from tomorrow”.
Replying to a question on the recent finds of natural gas resources within Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) he said that they are not on the negotiating table.
“Natural wealth belongs to the state and will be used for the benefit of all Cypriot citizens after the solution,” he noted.
Cyprus was high on the agenda of talks between the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the Presidents of the European Council and the European Commission Harman Van Rompuy and Jose Manuel Barroso in New York.
President Anastasiades also met with Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi and the two reviewed bilateral relations with special emphasis on economic cooperation and Chinese investments in Cyprus, as well as possible investments in the field of energy.
The president accepted an invitation to visit China within 2013.
On the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, Anastasiades also met with the heads of State of Serbia, Lebanon and Palestine, the Permanent Representatives of the P5 and members of the Council of Foreign Relations, AIPAC and the American Jewish Committee.
On Friday, he will be in Washington for a meeting with the US Vice President John Biden, having already received a word of praise from President Barack Obama earlier in the week for Cyprus’ efforts to help resolve humanitarian issues in the eastern Mediterranean, especially with the volatile situation in Syria. Biden said he would like to visit Cyprus soon, the first by a Secretary of State since Condoleeza Rice.
Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides has also had a series of meetings with his colleagues from Lebanon, the Republic of Korea, Kazakhstan, Libya, Montenegro and Kuwait, while the small but effective Cypriot lobby in the U.S. has been mobilised to push through the agenda for the resumption of peace talks.
President Nicos Anastasiades’ speech at the UN general Assembly 68th session, (26/9/2013)
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