Greek Cypriot negotiator Andreas Mavroyiannis discussed ongoing negotiations in the Cyprus talks and the impact of the discovery of oil and natural gas reserves off the southern coast on the process as well as on relationships among regional neighbours in an interview with the ‘Washington Times’.
He said that the US was mistaken in backing the UN Annan Plan in 2004, rather than allowing both sides to work out an agreement independently. Nevertheless, he hailed the US’s current role as “positive” and says that the US has acted “more as honest brokers and as friends of the process.”
Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot negotiators have been meeting regularly since unification talks restarted in February after a two year hiatus.
Mavroyiannis referred to the current meetings as a “screening process” that has “identified a lot of divergences” between the two sides.
“I want to caution against being over-optimistic, not because we are not determined, but we have not seen any concrete results yet,” he said. “We are still stuck in the beginning of the process.”
He said the talks have yet to produce tangible results and that both sides will have to work hard to seize a “window of opportunity.”
The two sides have the task of resolving issues such as property claims and compensation, territorial adjustments and guarantees of security. The Greek Cypriots are also taking issue about the large numbers of mainland Turkish settlers in the North.
The TRNC’s Foreign Minister Ozdil Nami told the newspaper in March that these fundamental differences could be settled in a “matter of months.”
But Mavroyiannis was not nearly as optimistic.
“It is too early to predict how long it will take,” he said. “At the same time, we all understand that there is a window of opportunity which will not last forever.”