President “cautiously optimistic” after Erdogan’s meetings with EU leaders
Cyprus President Nikos Christodoulides expressed “cautious optimism” after having been briefed by EU leaders, on the margins of the EU – Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) summit, regarding their discussions with Turkish President Tayip Erdogan during the NATO meeting in Vilnius.
President Christodoulides also announced that he had received a positive response from Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar regarding a joint visit to the Committee on Missing Persons (CMP) anthropological lab.
He was speaking upon his arrival for the second day of the EU – CELAC Summit in Brussels on Tuesday morning.
President Christodoulides said he was thoroughly briefed by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, French President Emmanuel Macron, European Council President Charles Michel and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis “on what was discussed on the margins of the NATO Summit in Lithuania” and expressed satisfaction with what he heard.
“I note Turkey’s interest in strengthening EU – Turkey relations. It is something we support,” he said, adding that “it is part of the broader framework of our proposal, our approach.”
“I was pleased to hear that this strengthening of relations requires also substantive developments on the Cyprus problem and I believe that the next period will determine whether these statements, the expression of interest, will be accompanied by concrete steps which, I repeat, are directly related to the Cyprus problem,” he added.
President Christodoulides said that he is “cautiously optimistic about developments” and pointed out that diplomatic efforts will continue throughout the summer. He said he expects efforts to culminate in New York, and expressed the hope that there will be positive developments at the European Council in October.
“Everything will depend on actions and not just intentions. I repeat, intentions are very important, I welcome them, I support them, and I am here to work for concrete developments concerning the resumption of the Cyprus settlement talks, with an enhanced role for the European Union, taking into account Turkey’s interest in coming closer to the European Union,” he said.
Joint visit to CMP with Ersin Tatar
President Christodoulides was asked to elaborate on a statement made recently regarding his intention to promote measures for the Turkish Cypriot community. The President said that he spoke “with members of civil society”, that is “Turkish Cypriot compatriots who really believe in reunification on the basis of the agreed framework.”
“I listened to their concerns, I listened to their worries and yes we are preparing proposals which we will make public very soon,” he added.
Christodoulides also referred to a letter he recently sent to Tatar regarding a possible joint visit to the anthropological laboratory of the Committee on Missing Persons.
“I was informed last night that there was a first positive reaction. In fact, a specific date for the joint visit at the end of July was discussed,” the President said, adding that the two sides have begun the preparation of a joint communication that will be issued following the visit.
“I hope we will come up with this joint communication. I don’t see any difficulties in making this visit happen. It will send a positive message,” he added.
“Despite the difficulties, the problems, I am here with seriousness, with realism to work for a solution to the Cyprus problem,” an objective which he said he considers “achievable on the basis of our approach to create a mutually beneficial state of affairs for all parties involved”, and that is why he insists on the more active involvement of the European Union.
President Christodoulides also announced that Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will be in Cyprus next week for bilateral and trilateral meetings.
“With the Greek Prime Minister in particular we will also define the strategy for the next concrete steps” in relation to the Cyprus problem, he said.
On the margins of his meetings today and yesterday, there were “specific references” to the EU’s role “through specific developments in the broader context of EU – Turkey relations”, but also in relation to “the more active involvement of the European Union with the appointment of a personality” as an envoy.
Asked by CNA on whether there is any indication of the Turkish President’s positions on the Cyprus problem beyond the EU – Turkey relations, the President said that “it is important that the Turkish President understands, always on the basis of the information I have received on the exchanges that took place, that there is a need for progress on the Cyprus problem, a resumption of talks on the basis of the agreed framework.”
CMP is a bi-communal body established in 1981 by the leaders of the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities with the participation of the United Nations. Following the establishment of an agreed list of missing persons, the CMP’s objective is to recover, identify, and return to their families, the remains of 2002 persons (492 Turkish Cypriots and 1,510 Greek Cypriots) who went missing during the inter-communal fighting of 1963 to 1964 and the events of 1974.
The Committee has three members, two appointed respectively by the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities and a third member selected by the International Committee of the Red Cross and appointed by the United Nations Secretary-General.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37% of its territory.