30 April 2014 11:22

Nicosia on Tuesday would not comment on Turkish press reports that US ambassador John Koenig said the return of fenced-off Varosha should be part of a Cyprus problem's comprehensive settlement.
This rather than a confidence-building measure, Nicosia believes would create a new dynamic for the recently re-launched UN-brokered Cyprus peace talks - something that Washington was also supporting.
An insider said: "I don't think that if there was a change in the US position on this crucial issue we would hear it through the press."
The same insider added: "It's a report in a Turkish newspaper translated by the Turkish Cypriot press, no one has seen the original transcript, it could very well be a lost in translation statement".
Koenig is due back to Cyprus from South Africa where he accompanies the two appointed negotiators on the peace talks early today.
The 'educational' trip - organised by the UN Development Programme (UNDP) - aims to provide hands-on experience on conflict-resolution to the two negotiators.
Stalled reunification talks resumed on February 11 after President Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu agreed on a joint communiqué listing the key principles of a federated Cyprus.
But the process seems to be far from smooth as Anastasiades insists that the return of the ghost town to its lawful Greek Cypriot inhabitants and consequent operation of its port by both communities would be a 'game changing' step.
A month ago, Koenig said after a meeting in Nicosia with ruling Disy leader Averof Neophytou that such a move would create a new dynamic for the Cyprus talks.
"We share the view that such steps could contribute very, very positively to the conclusion and implementation of a comprehensive settlement," Koenig said then.
"These are not two different things. They are part of the same effort, after 40 years, to successfully reach a settlement and implement a settlement that will reunite the island and protect the interests of all Cypriots," he added.
The Milliyet interview also quoted Koenig saying that the Cyprus problem has often been brought to the agenda during talks between Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and US Secretary of State John Kerry.
"USA is closely watching the process. But the ones who are claiming that USA is dominating the talks are wrong. Our role is a supportive role and we hope that our role can make positive contribution to the process" he said.
The US ambassador also dismissed criticism that his country's upgraded interest in the 40-year-old Cyprus problem is because they want to have control over the recently discovered hydrocarbons offshore Cyprus.
"We want a solution for the same reasons that Cypriots want a solution," he said and argued that this would bring stability and prosperity to the divided country and help efforts to calm an already volatile region.


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