Cross-talks to start on Cyprus after key deal

Photo: Cross-talks to start on Cyprus after key deal / Turkey

The launch of new reunification talks in Cyprus is raising hopes amid plans for the first-ever cross visits by Turkish and Greek Cypriot envoys to each other's mainland countries, Greece and Turkey, in a bid to break the ice between the old rivals, Hurriyet Daily News reported.

The Hürriyet Daily News has learned that Greek Cypriot negotiator Andreas Mavroyannis will visit Ankara at the same time that Turkish Cypriot negotiator Kudret Özersay is received in Athens, most probably next week, although the final date has yet to be set.

The negotiators will meet with the undersecretaries of the two foreign ministers simultaneously and under similar protocol procedures. In Ankara, Mavroyannis will meet Undersecretary Feridun Sinirlioglu.

Ankara has said the cross talks will help the parties break psychological barriers and contribute to the islanders' negotiations for a lasting settlement. The visits are also expected to help foster further reconciliation between Turkey and Greece, whose ties have greatly improved in recent years.

The leaders of the Turkish and Greek Cypriots communities, Dervish Eroglu and Nikos Anastasiadis, met on Feb. 11 in Nicosia and launched a new round of peace talks after they agreed on a joint statement, seen as the framework for negotiations. The methodology and road map will be discussed between Ozersay and Mavroyannis tomorrow. The Turkish government believes that the new process could be a genuine effort to resolve the Cyprus problem and is thus attaching great significance to it.

A Turkish intervention in Cyprus in 1974 following a brutal offensive by Greek Cyprus against Turkish Cypriots resulted in the island's division and decades of little contact. Psychological hurdles caused Greek Cypriots to reject a peace plan in 2004, even as the Turkish community agreed to establish a new partnership with Greek Cypriots.

As new reunification talks started with high hopes and support from the international community, Turkish diplomatic sources believe the cross talks will contribute to the process. Ankara believes the endorsement of Turkey and Greece, as the two mainland countries and guarantors, is crucially important in encouraging the negotiating sides.

The idea to hold cross talks came from Greece in September 2013 when foreign ministers Ahmet Davutoglu and Dimitris Venizelos met in New York on the sidelines of a U.N. General Assembly. Turkey accepted the proposal, believing it could give momentum to both sides' efforts. The initial plan was to let negotiators to meet with the foreign ministers of the other mainland countries but was changed after deliberations.

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