Cypriot leaders hope to reignite peace process

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Newly elected President Nikos Christodoulides Thursday held his first meeting with Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar to try and break the ice on frozen reunification talks.

Christodoulides told reporters that Thursday’s meeting was a courtesy call and that he would meet Tatar again soon, but no date had been fixed.

“I didn’t hear anything I wasn’t expecting…I said I remained open despite our different approaches,” said Christodoulides.

“I’m not here to play any blame game.

“I’m interested in the substance; I’m interested in the results; I’m interested in achieving our goal, which is nothing more than breaking the deadlock.”

He said he remained positive about resuming formal negotiations under the United Nations framework after nearly six years.

“This wasn’t a discussion on the core issues; this wasn’t a negotiation.”

Diplomats have struggled to move the dial on Cyprus talks as Tatar insists on the recognition of two separate sovereign states, rejecting the loose federal model promoted under the UN umbrella.

“I’m ready to do whatever is possible,” said Christodoulides.

“I expressed our willingness to do everything possible to break the deadlock, always within the agreed framework of the UN, but also with the EU having a leading role,” he added.

After the two-hour meeting in Nicosia’s UN-controlled buffer zone, a UN statement said the two leaders “had an informal discussion which was open and constructive”.

It said Christodoulides and Tatar addressed several issues, including the recent devastating earthquakes in Türkiye and Syria that claimed thousands of lives.

“Amongst them were Turkish Cypriots, and they expressed their sympathy for the victims and their families.”

All UN peace talks have yet to yield results; the last collapsed at Crans-Montana, Switzerland, in July 2017.

The meeting took place at the official residence of Canadian diplomat Colin Stewart, the UN head of mission in Cyprus.

Christodoulides won a closely contested presidential election on 12 February and officially becomes president on 1 March.

The former foreign minister said a resumption of derailed peace talks was his manifesto priority.

Cyprus has been divided since the 1974 Turkish invasion triggered by a Greek-engineered coup to unite the island with Greece.