Greek Cypriot negotiator Andreas Mavroyiannis and his Turkish Cypriot counterpart Kudret Ozersay are making simultaneous cross visits to Athens and Ankara on Thursday to push forward efforts towards the island’s reunification.
A day earlier, US Deputy Secretary of State William Burns (pictured) held talks in Istanbul with Turkish Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Feridun Sinirlioğlu in which they also discussed Cyprus.
And last night, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan held a phone conversation about the ongoing Cyprus peace process with Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu, according to Anadolu Agency.
“Eroglu briefed Erdogan on the latest developments in the ongoing peace talks…Erdogan said Turkey would continue its constructive efforts to help the conflict to be solved,” Anadolu said.
UN-brokered reunification talks resumed on February 11 after the divided island’s two leaders agreed on a joint communiqué highlighting the key principles of a federated Cyprus.
The two sides hope to reach a comprehensive plan by the end of the negotiations which are not expected to drag for too long. The plan will then be discussed within the communities and put to separate referenda.
The appointed negotiators will be holding talks with foreign ministry officials in Athens and Ankara focusing on the long-standing Cyprus problem.
“Everything will be on the table, including the hot issue of Famagusta,” an insider said, adding: “What will come out of this visit is very crucial because the Greek Cypriot side will get an opportunity to explain its positions and to establish a direct communication channel”.
President Anastasiades is pushing for the return of the Turkish-held ghost town to its lawful Greek Cypriot inhabitants as a gesture of goodwill aiming to build up trust between the two sides.
But the messages from the Turkish side are mixed with Ozersay himself saying that “very different models exist regarding Famagusta” and that the ghost town is a “miniature of the Cyprus problem”.
“And that is why it is so difficult (to agree upon)…discussing Famagusta implies raising all six chapters of the Cyprus problem - security, property, land, borders, EU law and customs,” he said.
However, a more optimistic Mavroyiannis said in an interview with Turkish paper Milliyet last week that “the key to the solution of the Cyprus problem is in Turkey”.
Ozersay and Mavroyiannis will meet again to continue their discussions on Tuesday, a statement from the UN mission in Nicosia said earlier in the week.
The announcement also said that the two had completed their exchange of views on process and started ‘substantive discussions’ on issues connected to different chapters.