News, interviews and opinions on Cyprus peace process
Saturday, 12 August 2017
Crunch time for Cyprus
By Esra Aygin
The technical aspect of negotiations aimed at reuniting the divided island within 2016 is almost finalised, with the process soon becoming purely political.
The political course will require the two leaders, Nicos Anastasiades and Mustafa Akinci to display political will and courage to take decisions on some of the most difficult issues.
Greek Cypriot negotiator Andreas Mavroyiannis, who is running for president of the UN General Assembly, will leave for New York at the end of May.
The aim by then is for him and Turkish Cypriot negotiator Ozdil Nami to wrap up the negotiations on the four topics of the Cyprus problem– governance, property, European Union affairs, and economy.
EU affairs and economy have largely been completed and the two negotiators will be focusing on governance and property, during the eight meetings they are scheduled to have this month.
“The negotiations will then move on to the next level, which will be handled by the leaders themselves,” a source said.
According to the source, the governance topic has largely been covered, with the two sides now working on finalising the details about the competence of constituent states to make international agreements in certain areas, and the regulation of voting rights in the elections for local administrations.
Although rotating presidency has not formally been accepted by the Greek Cypriot side, the main point of disagreement between the sides is not this, but the periods of rotation, according to the source.
While the Greek Cypriot side wants the rotation to be based on a four-year to one-year mandate, the Turkish Cypriot side is insisting that the Turkish Cypriot president holds the office for at least two years.
The negotiators have also made considerable progress on property and the sides now, for the first time in the history of Cyprus negotiations, have a joint paper on the topic.
The property convergence paper is mostly made up of black ink, which signifies agreements, the source said.
With wide agreement on definitions including ‘current user,’ and who will get which remedy – reinstatement, compensation, exchange – under which conditions, the sides are now working on how exactly to define ‘emotional attachment’, which will be a criteria applied to solve property problems.
If the process goes as hoped, Akinci and Anastasiades will start to discuss the territory issue in June.
When adequate progress is achieved in territory, the sides will come together with the three guarantor powers, Turkey, Greece and the United Kingdom, to discuss the last topic of the negotiations, which is security and guarantees.
Some behind-the-scenes diplomacy has provided for a general understanding between the sides that the existing guarantee system will be amended to provide a feeling of security for both Turkish and Greek Cypriots.
Some ideas being pondered are the increased involvement of the UN in the security scheme, and working more with the Treaty of Alliance and less with the Treaty of Guarantee.
With August and December being holiday months, June and July will be crucial in determining whether or not Cyprus will be united this year.