No dates have been set for any further meetings between the two community leaders. UN Special Envoy to Cyprus, Espen Barth Eide said that both sides were waiting to move onto the final phase of the Cyprus talks, but there were some issues outstanding.
“Both sides, as I understand them, are ready to move into a final phase but there are still some outstanding issues that have to be settled,” he said, adding that “they are not settled right now.”
“I will continue this shuttle diplomacy,” he said.
Eide said he hoped for a conclusion “as soon as possible, but I cannot say when we are concluding.” It might even go into next week, he said.
The UN envoy promised to work “as intensively as I can with them, and when there is something more to share you will hear it.”
“We are working in a good spirit and with a genuine intent to find a common platform,” he added.
Eide was speaking after a two hour meeting he had with with Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci in the north.
The Norwegian diplomat had made similar comments earlier in the day after seeing President Nicos Anastasiades.
However, given that Eide was not scheduled to meet with the leaders again over the coming days, the signs looked unpromising.
Additionally, he was scheduled to leave the island on Thursday evening, Greek Cypriot government spokesman Nicos Christodoulides said.
Christodoulides spoke to reporters after he met separately – in his capacity as head of the president’s diplomatic office – with Eide, following the latter’s meeting with Anastasiades.
Asked if Eide’s departure meant that the talks were over, Christodoulides said:
“I would not say they [the talks] are stopped, or terminated. I am simply citing certain facts. Let us all be patient, the National Council will be briefed at 10am on Monday and subsequently the public will be informed.
“For us, there is no other option but to do whatever is possible to solve the Cyprus problem. That could happen if there is a positive response to the president’s proposal. Thus, this is the moment of truth, to see whether we are truly seeking a settlement.”
In the last of four meetings, the two community leaders were unable to map out a clear-cut way forward on Wednesday. The UN’s hoped for a new Cyprus Conference in Geneva were dashed.
On Thursday, Akinci accused the Greek Cypriot side of lacking goodwill and setting preconditions instead of tabling constructive proposals.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, who had a phone conversation with Akinci after the last meeting, slammed Anastasiades for his “strange proposals.”
Leaked information on Wednesday, showed that Anastasiades wants territorial readjustments, security and guarantees to be discussed first and separately at a new conference, before moving on to the other issues – EU, economy, power-sharing and property.
On the other hand, Akinci has suggested a holistic approach, discussing all issues as a package as some of the aspects – like property and territory – are interrelated.
It has been speculated that Anastasiades wants to extract concessions in return for the Turkish Cypriot demand for a rotating presidency.
Cavusoglu told NTV that the Greek Cypriots wanted to close the territory chapter first, then deal with the rest.
He also accused Anastasiades of “populism” ahead of the 2018 presidential elections in the south.
Anastasiades retaliated by accusing the Turkish side of avoiding discussion of substantive issues.
“I made a proposal to demonstrate that I mean what I say, which is that I want a solution. But a settlement will not come about by repeating ourselves and sticking to our differences.
“I hear talk of cross-process talks and so forth. But which side is it who until now refused to touch upon – until at least Mont Pèlerin – the issues of territory or guarantees? They even refused to brainstorm. They excluded these two issues so as to leave them till the end.”
Anastasiades said that he intended to make his proposals public, but he would wait while Eide undertakes a new initiative to keep the process moving forward.
Anastasiades made the comments coming out of a meeting at the presidential palace with Greece’s visiting Foreign Minister, Nicos Kotzias.
“I have briefed Mr Kotzias on the proposals I submitted. We are completely aligned with the Greek government,” he said.