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19 May, 2024
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President keeps EU initiative alive after phone call

Christodoulides finds lifeline from mystery caller as divided island’s leaders disagree on peace, exhumations


Dialogue prospects on divided Cyprus may seem small after UN efforts failed this week to bring together the two community leaders, but President Nikos Christodoulides remained upbeat on Thursday over a hard sell to involve Brussels in the peace process, citing a phone call he received on Thursday.

Christodoulides has been pushing for a greater EU role on the Cyprus Problem but Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar has rejected the proposal, accusing Brussels of not being an honest broker and further suggesting the south was “trying to revive an old and proven unsuccessful proposal.”

Tatar accused the Greek Cypriot leader of 'misleading the public' on the issue of missing persons, suggesting Christodoulides was backpedaling on an exhumation agreement in Aloa

The proposal comes as UN efforts are failing to bring the two sides together, including this week when Cyprus’ UN top diplomat Colin Stewart was unsuccessful in bringing Christodoulides and Tatar together to break a deadlock in peace talks.

But the Greek Cypriot leader, who attended a Varosha exhibition in Limassol on Thursday, told reporters there was still hope his plan might work after receiving a phone call on his way to the event.

"I received a phone call based on which there seem to be prospects towards this direction and we will make the most of it so that talks can finally resume,” Christodoulides said.

Identity of caller not revealed, Michel calls Erdogan

Christodoulides did not reveal the identity of the caller but there was speculation the phone call may have come as a broader dialogue on EU-Turkey relations, including stalled accession talks over Greco-Turkish disputes, was on the rebound after Athens and Ankara have being cosying up to each other in recent months.

Things were less clear in Nicosia, where a state radio presenter on Friday morning took note that re-elected Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had spoken on the phone on Wednesday with European Council President Charles Michel, who called Ankara to offer his congratulations. 

Declarations of readiness to meet

But Tatar this week reiterated a precondition for talks, saying Turkish Cypriots were ready to “start a new negotiation process immediately with acknowledgment of our sovereign equality and equal international status,” a position rejected by the Greek Cypriot side.

Earlier this week Christodoulides said he was ready to meet Tatar “even tomorrow” and also proposed a joint visit to the anthropological lab of the bicommunal Committee on Missing Persons to boost support for its humanitarian objectives.

But Tatar accused the Greek Cypriot leader of “misleading the public” on the issue of missing persons, suggesting Christodoulides was backpedaling on an exhumation agreement in Aloa.

“For nearly two weeks, there have been intensive discussions between our officials with the Greek Cypriot side and the UN to secure the implementation of this agreement,” Tatar said on Wednesday.

The Turkish Cypriot leader also said he had spoken on the phone with Christodoulides a day earlier and expressed his readiness to make a joint visit at the CMP.

Cyprus remains divided for half a century between a recognized Greek Cypriot south and a Turkish Cypriot north not recognized by any country except Turkey.

Greek Cypriots have renewed their interest in a bizonal federal solution while Turkish Cypriots insist on having equal status before engaging in peace talks.

Cyprus  |  EU  |  peace talks  |  Cyprus Problem  |  exhumations  |  Aloa  |  Christodoulides  |  Tatar  |  Michel  |  Erdogan  |  Greek  |  Turkish  |  Cypriot

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