Cypriot president to meet Turkish Cypriot leader with aim of restarting negotiations

Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades will go to a meeting with Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci later this week with the sole aim of restarting peace negotiations to bring again together the estranged communities of Greek and Turkish Cypriots, his spokesman said on Monday.

Anastasiades called all parliamentary party leaders to his colonial era mountain top summer official residence to discuss the approach to the meeting with Akinci on Friday, the first such encounter of the two after several months.

“The president aims at a creative meeting with the Turkish Cypriot leader in a bid to create the necessary conditions for the resumption of settlement talks,” spokesman Prodromos Prodromou said after the meeting.

He added that Anastasiades informed party leaders about his approach on the Aug. 9 meeting, as well as about his intention to create the necessary conditions for the resumption of negotiations and for a Cyprus settlement.

Negotiations for the reunification of Cyprus collapsed in July, 2017, when the participants of a conference presided over by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres disagreed over power sharing and security arrangements.

The spokesman said Anastasiades will seek a solution on the basis of UN resolutions on Cyprus and on the parameters set by the UN Secretary General at the last round of talks in the Swiss resort of Crans Montana.

Akinci, in a rare interview with state-run Cyprus News Agency last week, said that at the meeting with Anastasiades he will ask for the formation of a committee made up of an equal number of Greek and Turkish Cypriots to manage an exploration program for hydrocarbons.

He also said that if Greek Cypriots dismiss the suggestion, as they have done up to now, he will propose a moratorium on hydrocarbon activities as negotiations will be going on.

Anastasiades has dismissed the proposal, saying that the issue had been agreed upon in the negotiations years ago and on the grounds that natural gas exploration was not included by the Secretary General in a six-point outline for a solution at the Crans Montana conference.

Turkey, which since the Crans Montana conference has been floating the idea of joint management of hydrocarbons, started a drilling in an area which Cyprus claims as part of its exclusive economic zone under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. It is also preparing for a second drilling to the east of the island.

Turkey, which claims parts of the exclusive economic zone of Cyprus, on Monday called for talks to settle differences.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said all should aim at what he called a win-win arrangement that will benefit all parties.