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Leaders still have to agree on the most thorny issues in talks

18 September 2016

In a bid to continue the momentum achieved in the Cyprus negotiations, both Cypriot community leaders will be meeting together with the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in New York this coming week, It is likely that a plan outlining the next move and some new ideas on the property issue will emerge from the meeting, according to ‘Cyprus Weekly’.

Both leaders know that if there is not sufficient progress made, the negotiations will collapse. Currently some of the hurdles are that, in the case of a settlement, the Turkish Cypriots do not want people to move from properties that they currently occupy, a condition which impacts on the subject of territorial adjustments. Meanwhile, the Greek Cypriots have said that they want more than was agreed in the 2004 Annan Plan with regard to property and territory. Without a better deal for them, the voters will vote ‘no’ again, in a referendum.

The property issue will be the opener for discussion on territory and security in the second round of intensive talks which will begin after Presidents Akinci and Anastasiades return from New York.

The leaders have invited Ban to be more active in the negotiations. According to insiders, Cyprus Weekly reports that such a request would allow the UN Secretary-General to request meetings with the leaders, in an effort to resolve any deadlocks. The same formula was used when President Dervish Eroglu was in negotiations with Greek Cypriot President Christofias. The two leaders met with Ban at Greentree in Long Island in November 2011 and January 2012.

This is thought to be the proper environment to negotiate issues such as the rotating presidency and the sensitive topic of guarantees.

So far there have been convergences on four chapters in the negotiations – governance, economy, European Union affairs and partly on properties. On the property issue there is an understanding on different criteria, but the sides cannot agree on who has the first say on a property – the initial owner or the current user.

As to territory, the return or not of Guzelyurt (Morphou) remains unresolved. There is also the suggestion of declaring part of the Karpaz peninsula as belonging to the federal state.

For the first time in the history of the negotiations, Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots have discussed security and guarantees. They propose that Turkey remains a guarantor but only for north Cyprus – the Turkish Cypriot constituent state. The Greek Cypriots want to scrap the old system of guarantees and have suggested that an international police force be responsible for the security of both the federal state and its two component states.

Cyprus Weekly

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