By Jean Christou
UN Special Adviser Espen Barth appeared pragmatic on Tuesday night that his proposal for a twin-track process to resolve the hydrocarbons dispute so that Cyprus talks could resume, had not created “much enthusiasm” on either side.
President Nicos Anastasiades told Eide during their 90-minute meeting that there would be no returning to the negotiating table until Turkey ceased violating the island’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
He also explained to Eide why the Special Adviser’s proposal for a twin-track process through parallel discussions on hydrocarbons had been rejected by the Greek Cypriot side.
“I respect and understand that, so that was what I had to propose,” said Eide.
“So in a sense now it’s more the two sides that have to find a way to create the conditions that they can speak. What I am concentrating on is now what we do in order to make sure that the talks will be speedy and effective once we are back at the table. And I remain optimistic that we will get there but I am not able to say exactly when we will get there,” he added.
“I feel that the situation can either get better or it can get significantly worse,” he said.
He said he was encouraging both sides to think of ways where they could re-approach each other in such a way that the talks could continue.
But the government spokesman’s comments after the meeting were clear. “Our decision to return to the negotiating table cannot be secured while there is a continuing violation of the sovereignty of the Republic,” said Nicos Christodoulides.
“We developed our argument as to why the proposal of Mr Eide could not be accepted. There can be no dialogue under threats and intimidation.”
If Turkey changed its stance and demonstrated in practice that it respected the sovereignty of Cyprus a dialogue could be resumed.
“It is clear who is responsible for the situation we are in today so the party responsible should take those actions that will make it possible to resume the dialogue.”
Eide is due to meet Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu on Wednesday
Earlier in the day Anastasiades met political party leaders ahead.
After the meeting Christodoulides said there had been a good exchange of views on the argument the Greek Cypriot side would be putting to Eide.
Its position had not changed and was unanimous, he said. “The issue of hydrocarbons can in no way be discussed either at the [negotiating] table nor in any other parallel process,” said the spokesman.
He said the issue of energy was an important incentive both to the Turkish Cypriots and to Turkey to solve the Cyprus problem as soon as possible. “Any other discussion or idea for discussion serves as a vehicle for failure to resolve the Cyprus problem,” Christodoulides said.
“It was Turkey by its actions, which have escalated the situation that led us to the decision to suspend our participation in the negotiations, so any action or efforts [to defuse the situation] should be directed there.”
In early October, Turkey announced plans to carry out surveys within Cyprus’ EEZ and sent in the seismic vessel Barbaros on October 20 with plans to carry out exploration until December 30. This prompted Anastasiades to withdraw from the talks.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu was quoted on Tuesday as saying that as long as the Greek Cypriots explore and drill for gas, the Barbaros would be there. “If they stop, we will stop,” he said. “We are against unilateral drilling.”
He suggested that as the two sides in Cyprus could not agree, a joint private consortium could be set up to take over the hydrocarbons mantle until a Cyprus solution was agreed.