The current juncture is of critical importance for the future prospects of Cyprus settlement talks, according to Andreas Mavrogiannis, the negotiator for the Greek-Cypriot side.
Ominously, Mavrogiannis stressed that if the current impasse in talks continues beyond summer, it will be difficult for the negotiations to resume.
In that context, the forthcoming dinner between Cyprus’ President Nikos Anastasiadis and Turkish-Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci, scheduled for 16 April, is of particular significance.
The meeting will be of an exploratory nature, in order to reach an assessment of the current state of affairs and to review what is to become of the settlement talks.
Seeking a path to negotiating table
Mavrogiannis stressed that the meeting is not part of the negotiations process, and that the two sides will be holding discussions without preconditions, so as to hopefully open a path that could lead to the return to the negotiating table.
“We await a reversal of the negative climate that exists at the moment, and improved practices by the Turkish-Cypriot and Turkish side,” Mavrogiannis said.
He also underlined that Anastasiadis will not discuss issues related to Cyprus’ natural gas deposits and the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone, over which the Republic of Cyprus has full authority.
Older commitments on energy
In older settlement talks between then Cypriot president Dimitris Christofias and Turkish-Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat, the two sides had reached agreement on a number of points, Mavrogiannis recalled.
Firstly, it was agreed that Cyprus will remain a party to the United Nations’ 1982 Montego Bay Law of the Sea Convention, which will continue to regulate all matters pertaining to Cyprus’ EEZ.
Secondly, it was agreed that all of the island’s natural resources, including hydrocarbons deposits, will constitute resources of the (post-settlement] federal government, and consequently all revenues from their exploitation will go to the federal government.
Thirdly, following a Cyprus settlement – and until such time as the Turkish-Cypriot component state reaches 85 percent of the GDP of the Greek-Cypriot component state, or for a period of up to 13 years – six percent of state revenues will be spent on infrastructure and development.
Cyprus settlement plans have called for a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation, comprised of two ethnically-based component states.
Of that six percent of revenues, during that period, five-sixths will go to the Turkish-Cypriot component state.
“Beyond the above, we have in addition President Anastasiadis’ initiative to create a fund in which one will deposit a portion of the revenues from the exploitation of gas and oil – if such exploitation goes forward and brings in revenues,” Mavrogiannis said.
“The management of the fund will be based on the Norwegian model, which provides all the necessary guarantees for its operation and it revenues, which will be used for the benefit of the future generations in all of Cyprus,” the negotiator concluded.