The two leaders from divided Cyprus’ two communities met in the UN buffer zone in Nicosia on Tuesday, following last month’s elections in the north, with both men agreeing in principle to an informal five-party meeting but not without expressing reservations.
The Greek Cypriot leader, Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades, met with newly-elected Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar on Tuesday evening at a United Nations compound in the divided capital.
Special Representative Elizabeth Spehar, who serves as Deputy Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Cyprus, hosted the meeting. A UN press release said the meeting provided Anastasiades and Tatar “an opportunity to get to know each other and to have their first informal exchange of views in a cordial atmosphere.”
A statement from Tatar’s office said the effort to reach a federal solution in Cyprus had run its course, adding that thinking outside the box was the way forward
Anastasiades described the meeting as “cordial” while a UN statement said the two leaders “expressed their determination to positively respond to the UN Secretary-General’s commitment to explore the possibility to convene an informal five-plus-United Nations meeting, in a conducive climate, at an appropriate stage.”
Local media also reported that Anastasiades and Tatar did not agree on the formula for a settlement, with the Greek Cypriot leader insisting on previous UN resolutions and a federation path while the Turkish Cypriot leader called on “alternative ideas” to be included in the discussion.
Anastasiades told reporters at the Presidential Palace, after the meeting, that there was “no doubt a divergence of opinion” but refrained to make further comments, citing the nature of the first informal get-together between the two leaders.
The president said he raised during the meeting the issue of Varosha, where Turkish Cypriots and Turkey are moving forward with cleaning up the ghost town, while Tatar raised the issue of hydrocarbons, with his office later clarifying a joint venture proposal was still on the table.
A statement later in the night from Tatar’s office also said efforts to reach a federal solution in Cyprus had run their course, adding that thinking outside the box was the way forward.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres is expected to explore the possibility of convening the informal five-party meeting in the near future, which would include the two Cypriot sides, as well as the island’s guarantors Greece, Turkey, and Great Britain.