Cypriot leaders meet on talks resumption, Varosha

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Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades will urge for a resumption of peace talks when meeting new Turkish Cypriot leader, Ersin Tatar, on Tuesday in Nicosia’s UN buffer zone.

Government spokesman, Kyriakos Koushos, said hoped that the Turkish side will show the same political will to end three years of stalemate.

Cypriot leaders will hold a rare meeting in the wake of Ankara-backed hardliner Ersin Tatar becoming the newly elected leader of the Turkish Cypriots last month.

It will be the first meeting between Anastasiades and Tatar, but no major decisions are expected to come out of their get-together.

The “informal meeting” takes place at 7 pm at Chief of Mission Elizabeth Spehar’s residence in the UN-controlled buffer zone.

There have been no official UN-sponsored Cyprus settlement negotiations since a conference in Switzerland – also involving Turkey, Britain, and Greece – collapsed in July 2017.

Koushos said the positions of the Greek Cypriot side are clear and have been reaffirmed many times.

“We expect a resumption of the dialogue at the invitation of the UNSG, as he himself has said.”

“We hope that both Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot side will respond positively to the UNSG`s invitation and will show the same political will.”

Koushos said the President will raise the issue of the fenced-off city Varosha and the need to respect UN Security Council resolutions.

He said the opening of Varosha does not contribute to the creation of the appropriate climate for the resumption of Cyprus talks.

“Depending on the climate and the conditions that prevail, the UN will evaluate the situation and continue to take action, aiming at convening an informal five-party meeting.”

Koushos said comments by Tatar and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan seemingly backing a two-state solution for Cyprus were not encouraging signs that a breakthrough might be achieved.

“We remain firmly committed to the continuation of the talks; we have clear positions which we have repeatedly stated.”

Voters in the north on October 18 narrowly elected the right-wing nationalist Tatar as their president at a time of heightened tensions in the eastern Mediterranean.

An advocate of a two-state solution with the Republic of Cyprus he edged out previous Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci, 72, a supporter of reunification.

Tatar, a 60-year-old former “prime minister”, clinched his surprise victory in a second round of presidential elections, winning 51.7 percent of the vote.

Last month, Anastasiades and Tatar agreed in a phone call to meet in the buffer zone.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has said he wants to rekindle talks between the two sides after the elections in the north.

In his victory speech, Tatar said he would return to the negotiating table “when necessary” but said that Turkish Cypriots would “not compromise” on certain points essential to their “sovereignty”.

The European Union has deplored Turkey’s drilling for hydrocarbons in Cyprus waters and warned Ankara against further “provocations”.

Tatar was also behind reopening on 8 October the Greek Cypriot resort of Varosha, a sealed-off ghost town since 1974.

Anastasiades has said the move goes against international law and is an obstacle to resuming stalled peace talks.