Decisions made today at leaders’ meeting pivotal to negotiations

President Mustafa Akinci and President Nicos Anastasiades meet again today to discuss where the Cyprus negotiations go from here. President Akinci is very keen to arrange a continuation of the Cyprus Conference in Geneva, by June, before the South begins drilling for hydrocarbons offshore the island in July.

Columnist for Turkish Cypriot daily ‘Kibris Postasi’ Ulas Baris, refers to three scenarios resulting from today’s meeting between Akinci and Anastasiades.

Citing diplomatic sources, Baris reports that the “optimist scenario” is a decision about the continuation, at the end of June 2017, of the International Conference for Cyprus, which started in Geneva last January. The Turkish Cypriot side is apparently concerned about the very negative outcome for the future of the negotiations arising from a new summit, which is likely to end without any result. Recalling a statement made last week by President Anastasiades, the paper underlines the importance of a very well prepared “new summit” which should be “focused on the result”.

The second scenario is putting the process in the “fridge”, but not in the “deep-freeze”. After today’s meeting, the leaders will possibly state that they have exerted efforts to achieve convergences, as agreed in Geneva last January, but no sufficient progress for a new international conference was made. In this case, they will express their commitment to the solution and to returning to Geneva, but no concrete timetable will be announced. It is believed that in this scenario, the two sides will gain time and wait in view of the drilling for natural gas, which is expected to begin in South Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in July.

The “worst scenario” which the above-mentioned diplomatic sources described as the “Titanic”, is the sides leaving the meeting without any results. The sources argued that this would mean failure of the process which began two years ago. Such a development could create tension in July, he concludes.

Meanwhile, writing for Turkish Cypriot daily ‘Havadis’, columnist Huseyin Ekmekci argues that no one should underestimate the effect of the hydrocarbon explorations in South Cyprus’ EEZ, beginning in July. He expressed the view that when the drilling begins, Akinci will not be sitting at the negotiating table “as if nothing is happening”. “This is why Akinci wants a date for a possible summit and its conclusion before July 2017”, notes the columnist.

Additionally, Turkish Cypriot daily Star Kibris’ main editorial columnist Cuneyt Oruc, refers to statements made by AKEL’s General Secretary Andros Kyprianou, who has reportedly said that if there is no progress today, or if there is an interruption or an ending of the negotiations, all issues will remain after the presidential elections of February 2018 in the Republic of Cyprus. Under the headline “See you in three years”, Oruc recalls the presidential elections to be held in Turkey in 2019 and the presidential elections planned for 2020 in the TRNC, and argues that if we take into consideration all these, the date of the “revival” of the Cyprus negotiations after a possible interruption today, will be 2020.

Kibris Postasi, Havadis, Star Kibris

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