Nine months into the negotiations aimed at finding a comprehensive solution to the Cyprus problem, the process seems to have stagnated.
This, together with a lack of communication between the leaderships and the public, the failure to implement most confidence-building measures, and some statements or actions from both sides that feed into the hands of extremists has created the impression that things may not be going too well.
A source close to the Turkish Cypriot side, however, assured there is no trouble or tension at the negotiation table and said the loss of momentum is mainly due to the upcoming parliamentary elections in the Republic of Cyprus.
“Even if Anastasiades does not want to acknowledge it, the election period definitely has affected the Greek Cypriot negotiation team,” said the source, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“They have become more reserved, more cautious. There is constant concern that the discussions in negotiations may be used by certain circles to launch attacks and score points in the elections.”
Another factor slowing down the process is the technical and legal complexity of the issues at hand such as maritime affairs, flight information regions (FIR).
Concerns about the deceleration of the process were echoed by UN envoy Espen Barth Eide (inset photo). After meeting Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci he said the process was moving in the right direction, adding, however, that he believes it could move faster.
The source close to the Turkish Cypriot side is convinced, however, that the process will pick up in June. The sides are currently trying to close the remaining gaps in the chapters on governance and power-sharing, property, economy and the European Union, on which there already is significant progress.
They want to complete these chapters by the end of May, when the Greek Cypriot negotiator Andreas Mavroyiannis is expected to leave for a new post at the United Nations.
If things go according to the plan, the Turkish Cypriot side expects June to be the crucial month when the two remaining chapters – security and guarantees and territory will be dealt with and solved.
“The sides are still on track,” said the source. “Both sides still believe in and are working on reaching a solution to the Cyprus problem by the end of 2016.”