NICOSIA - A reunited Cyprus would strengthen its place within the European Union so both communities should find ‘creative compromises’ to end the division, European Council President Herman Van Rompuy said in Nicosia yesterday.
“A united Cyprus would obviously fortify its place within the EU. For that, a settlement would need to be in line with the principles on which the Union is founded,” Rompuy said after talks with President Anastasiades.
“Both communities are encouraged to make full use of the acquis, to find creative compromises to end the division of Cyprus,” he added.
Rompuy, who was on a one-day official visit to Cyprus – the first since the harsh EU-IMF bailout agreement in March - also said that for the bloc there is only one single option on the negotiating table.
And that is a comprehensive and lasting settlement based on a bi-zonal bi-communal federation for the benefit of all citizens of Cyprus.
“Our efforts should be directed to this only viable option. I reiterate what I said in my introductory statement: that I am engaged and I am personally following the process very closely,” Rompuy said.
Diplomats are seeking to kick-start a fresh UN-brokered peace process but a start date does look imminent.
An early November launch reported by the Turkish media was dismissed by UN and government officials.
Nonetheless, Rompuy said the Commission has already nominated a highly qualified interlocutor as a personal representative of its President.
And he also disclosed the possibility of a higher involvement of the EU in the process and the ways to make it more concrete have been discussed.
Anastasiades has requested, in a letter, greater EU input in Cyprus talks and this will be discussed in Brussels later this month.
Rompuy also sent the message that conflicts often seem intractable but “they can always, always, be overcome through trust, through dialogue. Forty years of division on this island must come to an end”.
He added: “I warmly welcome the President's commitment and determination to work for a lasting solution. There are encouraging signs, and I hope reunification talks can resume as soon as possible”.
A small number of protesters from left-wing Akel’s youth wing, Edon, picketed outside the Presidential Palace while Rompuy was meeting with Anastasiades.
Their placards said “No to Memorandums” – in reference to the harsh conditions attached to the economic bailout.
Rompuy also gave a lecture on EU affairs (pictured) at the University of Cyprus before yesterday’s late afternoon departure.