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Breakthrough in Cyprus talks likely in early 2016

23 December 2015

A breakthrough in the Cyprus negotiations is likely next year, despite concerns over property and security issues, a report by the international risk consultancy company Eurasia Group predicts.

Significant developments on the issue of territory are likely in the first three months of 2016. This will give added impetus to a reaching a workable agreement on unifying the island next year.

The report also pointed to Turkey as the most likely element to negatively influence the talks, in terms of the security issue, but this can still be resolved. However, it is unlikely that a referendum will take place before South Cyprus’ elections on 22nd May. Although, it could be possible to delay those in order to hold a referendum first.

The Eurasia Group report says that the problem of abandoned properties, which remain since the displacement of both Greek and Turkish Cypriots, must be solved.

The report suggests three potential solutions:

“There are three ways to resolve this issue: The previous owner will either be given back the property, offered some compensation for its value or given the option to swap it with another piece of property on the other side of the island.”

However, the report also writes that this problem cannot be solved immediately because of the technicalities required to classify property and ownership and public sensitivity about the topic.

Turkey will be the most critical international actor, for a variety of reasons, the report says. If the current geopolitical balance were to change – particularly, if relations with the EU lose momentum – Turkey may cease to regard reunification of the island as positive. In addition an upsurge in nationalism at home could force the government to take a tougher stance on Cyprus, according to the report.

The consultancy company also pointed out that parliamentary elections will not hamper a potential deal. President Nicos Anastasiades does not want to commit to a specific timeframe in order to keep all options open. Consequently, public elections could take place before a referendum but Anastasiades has also floated the idea that elections could be postponed until after a referendum is reached.

Meanwhile, the economy is predicted to be the most important topic in the election and referendum campaign period and the benefits of reunification will be a key factor in determining support for the referendum. However, Eurasia Group believes that external actors will manage to secure the necessary funds ahead of the referendum.

Daily Sabah

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