The estranged Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities are slowly moving towards resuming peace negotiations, which were suspended a month ago amid acrimonious accusations traded between both sides, party officials said on Friday.
Averof Neophytou, leader of the ruling DISY party, told state television that he met Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci on Thursday to discuss the prospects of resuming negotiations aimed at a settlement of the decades- old Cyprus problem.
Akinci quit the negotiations on Feb. 16, claiming that a vote by the all-Greek Cypriot parliament to commemorate in school classes a 1950 referendum in favor of uniting Cyprus with Greece denoted a move-away from the stated aim of the negotiations.
Neophytou said that he explained to Akinci that neither the ruling party nor the Greek Cypriot community have suddenly changed their policies on Cyprus.
“I told him that I had no knowledge that a so-called ‘enosis’ (union) amendment would be tabled by ELAM (an extreme-right two-seat party) and I further explained how a miscalculated abstention by my party gave the opportunity to several small parties to form a factitious parliamentary majority,” said Neophytou, adding that Akinci seemed to understand the situation.
Before the meeting, Akinci softened his hardline stance, saying that it was a matter of time to iron things out and resume negotiations.
But he still insisted that corrective measures should be taken towards the draft law tabled by DISY.
Neophytou said that discussion of his party’s draft law by a parliamentary committee will start next Wednesday, with a view of a debate by the full chamber within two or three weeks.
But Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades told the newly-established CNN Greece television station in an interview on Thursday that even if negotiations resume soon, he does not expect substantive talks before the referendum in Turkey on April 16.
Anastasiades is scheduled to meet UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres next Wednesday during a visit to New York to seek ways to defuse the situation.