The place and date of an informal five-party conference on Cyprus, which the UN Secretary General intends to convene, remain uncertain, while Nicosia fears that Turkey is playing “games” with the date, ahead of a European Council meeting, set to discuss EU-Turkey relations.
According to previous information, the informal conference was scheduled for early March, but this no longer seems feasible. A diplomatic source told CNA that Nicosia expects to learn about the new dates “at any time.”
Another diplomatic source told CNA that the place and date of the five-party conference have not been set yet, but it seems however impossible that the conference takes place in early March, in New York.
There are difficulties, due to existing measures to curb the spread of COVID-19 and “possibly due to games Turkey is playing” the same source said.
There are serious reasons why Nicosia fears that Turkey is playing games with the date, both in relation to the European Council, in March, as well as due to broader geopolitical relations, the diplomatic source added, adding that all these factors cause uncertainty as to the final outcome.
In the midst of these developments, Josep Borrell is paying a visit to the island, as the High Representative’s trip was finalized on Monday. Borrell is expected in Cyprus for contacts on February 19 and he will also have meetings in the Turkish-occupied part of the island.
Last December, the European Council invited the High Representative and the Commission to submit a report on the state of play concerning the EU-Turkey political, economic and trade relations and on instruments and options on how to proceed, including on the extension of the scope of the above-mentioned decision, for consideration at the latest at the March 2021 European Council.
The fact was also highlighted by the President of Cyprus, Nicos Anastasiades, who described Nicosia’s expectations from the forthcoming Summit during his statements, on Monday, with the Greek Premier. “What we are aiming at is to see Turkey proving in practice, and not just through rhetorical references, that it wants a sincere and constructive dialogue, based on international law, away from any threats or illegal actions” the President said.
He expressed moreover hope that EU references about a “positive agenda” also involve positive actions on behalf of neighboring Turkey.
Cyprus has been divided since the 1974 Turkish invasion. The latest UN-backed efforts to reunited the island took place in the summer of 2017 but failed to yield any results.