Which Way for Cyprus Talks? Uncertainty Ahead of UNSG Decision
There is a strong sense of uncertainty coming from the Greek-and-Turkish Cypriot political leadership ahead of UN Secretary-general Ban ki-Moon's decision on how talks will move forward, according to the latest statements coming from Nicosia, north and south of the UN-patrolled Green Line.
Turkish-Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu said that if Ban ki-Moon decides to suspend negotiations, his response will be that "it is not fair to continue negotiations under embargoes..." adding that a return to the negotiating table will have to be under different conditions.
In the time between the leaders' last meeting on March 29th, Greek-Cypriot leader Demetris Christofias rejected reports that the Turkish Cypriots plan to open up Famagusta city, saying it would simply be another attempt at legitimising the 'Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus' (TRNC).
A meeting between Ban ki-Moon and UN Special Adviser Alexander Downer was scheduled for yesterday and then postponed until today, increasing uncertainty over the peace talks.
The question is whether Ban ki-Moon will decide that talks have reached deadlock and have to be suspended? Or whether he will try to push for a 5-way summit comprised of the Greek-Cypriot leader Demetris Christofias, Eroglu and representatives from Greece, Britain and Turkey, Cyprus' guarantors.
Direct talks have been going on for more than three years but have made very little progress on the core issues of the executive, citizenship and property, and Ban ki-Moon said that the two sides are close to deadlock on those matters which are really at the heart of the Cyprus problem.
Executive: The Turkish-Cypriot side wants a rotating presidency, a position that is strongly rejected by the Greek-Cypriot side.
Citizenship: The Turkish-Cypriot side wants citizenship in a federal state for tens of thousands of Turkish nationals, also rejected by the Greek Cypriots.
Property: The Greek-Cypriot side wants the right of return for all Greek-Cypriot refugees to their property in Turkish-held north Cyprus. The Turkish Cypriot side rejects this. In their last meeting, the leaders failed to reach any agreement on the property issue.
The National Council said it will refuse to approve Christofias' attendance at a multi-lateral conference until agreement is reached on the above issues.
Meanwhile, the Immovable Property Commission (IPC) in north Cyprus said that out of the 3174 applications for restitution, compensation or exchange, it has concluded 228 of them and paid out 70.3 million GBP in compensation. The European Court of Human Rights approved the IPC as a viable local remedy for property disputes within the context of an occupied country in which Greek-Cypriot refugees cannot use the land they abandoned during the 1974 invasion by Turkey.
Only one out of the cases was postponed until after a solution to the Cyprus problem, which has been going on for four decades with no end in sight.
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