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Anastasiades calls for unity as Cyprus leaders to start talks on Tuesday

09 February, 2014

Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades has urged the island’s political leadership, the media and civil society to work together to achieve a viable solution that will secure a modern, European state for all the citizens of the country.


In a statement ahead of Tuesday’s meeting with Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu at the United Nations Protected Area in Nicosia, Anastasiades said that “after a very laborious effort that lasted many months, we have reached to the conclusion of a Joint Declaration that will allow us to resume a substantive dialogue to achieve a solution” that will lead to reunification.
Since December, negotiators from the island’s two communities failed to agree on the joint communiqué that would become the basis for future talks, leading to a bizonal, bicommunal federal state.
Anastasiades remained adamant on fundamental points within the joint document and chastised the UN-appointed mediator for taking sides, while Eroglu had refused to accept parts of the document and drafted a new one of his own, promptly rejected by the other side.
In a breakthrough announced last week, possibly at the behest of Washington, Turkey’s key ally that has started growing impatient with the deadlock on the island, Anastasiades and Eroglu announced their agreement to a draft joint declaration, set to pave the way for the resumption of the stalled peace talks.
However, Anastasiades’s biggest stumbling block came from within, as his junior coalition partner, the hardline Democratic Party (Diko) known for its rejectionist stance of any federal solution, has threatened to leave the government.
Fortunately for the president, Cyprus maintains an executive presidential system, with parliament limited to a legislative and budget oversight body, so his administration will remain intact for another four years.
Ironically, the president’s main support will probably come from arch-rival Akel, the communist party responsible for the economic downfall of the past five years, as his own Democratic Rally (Disy) party, a member of the European Poopular Party (EPP) grouping have always seen eye-to-eye on the national issue and a federal system that sees power sharing with the Turkish Cypriots.
Anastasiades said on Sunday that he considered “totally unfounded and baseless and at the same time dangerously arbitrary, allegations that are being made to alter the contents of the Joint Declaration.”
He said he “has not deviated one iota” from his pre-election commitments either towards Diko or the people of Cyprus.
“The joint declaration is only the beginning,” the President said, and underlined that “we have hard work ahead and should make a persistent effort. In the time to come, everyone’s patriotic standing will be accounted for, the political leadership, the media and civil society. Everyone has a role to play in this effort,” he added.
Anastasiades and Eroglu will meet on Tuesday morning, after latest UN-led round of talks was suspended by the Turkish Cypriot side in July 2012, when Cyprus assumed the presidency of the Council of the European Union.
Meanwhile, US Vice President Joe Biden, in a telephone conversation with Anastasiades on Friday, underscored the unwavering U.S. support for a just and lasting settlement to achieve the re-unification of Cyprus as a bizonal, bicommunal federation.
The Cyprus News Agency’s New York correspondent Apostolis Zoupaniotis quoted the American official as saying that “Washington looks forward to successful resumption of the U.N.-led talks in the coming days,” and encouraged creative thinking on ways to improve prospects for success.
The report added that “Vice President Biden expressed appreciation for the Republic of Cyprus as a key partner in a vital region”.
Former Australian foreign minister Alexander Downer who has been criticised by the Greek Cypriot side for pushing forward Turkish demands on the Cyprus talks, will not be present at Tuesday’s meeting.
He will be replaced by the Chief of Mission and UN Secretary General’s Representative in Cyprus Lisa Buttenheim, who also briefed the UN Security Council in New York last month on the progress on Cyprus talks.