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Negotiations approaching most critical stage

15 May 2016

If the Cyprus talks proceed as planned, Presidents Akinci and Anastasiades could be negotiating one of the most problematic issues in the talks – territory.

Writing in Cyprus Weekly, freelance journalist Esra Aygin says that most of the technical work on governance, property, the economy and EU affairs has been completed by the two chief negotiators – Ozdil Nami and Andreas Mavroyiannis.

She writes that on the issue of the rotating presidency, the main sticking point is how long the Turkish Cypriot president holds office. The Greek Cypriots want a ratio of four to one, while the Turkish Cypriots want to hold office for a minimum of two years.

The intention is to use the next eight meetings scheduled for this month to conclude the aforementioned topics but with a special focus on governance and property.

The negotiations will then move on to the next level, which will be handled by the leaders themselves,” a source said.

Mavroyiannis has his own personal deadline, as he is leaving for the US to stand for the post of president of the UN General Assembly at the end of May.

Aygin writes that considerable progress has been made on property and for the first time ever, the two sides have produced a joint paper on the property chapter.

Broad agreement has been reached on definitions including ‘current user,’ and who can claim which remedy, such as, reinstatement, compensation, exchange and under what conditions. Currently both sides are working on the precise definition of ‘emotional attachment’, which will be one of the criteria applied to solve the property issue.

If sufficient agreement on territory is reached by the two presidents, then they will meet with the three guarantor powers, Greece, Turkey and the UK to negotiate the final chapter, which covers security and guarantees.

Backstage diplomacy has laid the groundwork for general consensus between the sides that there will need to be some alterations to the current system, so that both communities can feel secure. Ideas being floated are such as, increased involvement by the UN in security plans and enhanced focus on the Treaty of Alliance and less on the Treaty of Guarantee.

Given that summer and Christmas holidays will claim a chunk of negotiating time, the months of June and July will be critical to a successful outcome of the Cyprus negotiations, Aygin concludes.

Cyprus Weekly

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