Leaders to meet Tuesday as tensions lurk behind scenes

The two leaders are due to meet on Tuesday for their third meeting since talks resumed amid numerous reports that a new Geneva conference was on the horizon before July when drilling is set to begin in the island’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

Reports on Sunday said Turkey was pushing for a new conference as a means to have the Republic postpone drilling plans, news that prompted criticism from the hardline parties who urged the government not to all energy plans to be derailed.

The agenda for Tuesday’s meeting was set last Thursday by the negotiators of the two sides along with UN Special Adviser Espen Barth Eide who himself has come under fire in the past week over accusations by the Greek foreign minister that he was acting like a lobbyist for Turkey. The letter sent by the Greek minister to the UN chief had tacit approval from the government, though the UN subsequently has given Eide its full backing.

Eide said on Friday the talks were going much better than it appeared to the public eye even though President Nicos Anastasiades said after meeting Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci on April 20, that it was not possible to talks of confidence building measures while Turkey was presenting challenges and obstacles.

According to its information on Sunday, CNA reported that during Tuesday’s meeting the leaders are expected to discuss the effective participation of both communities in government, governance, and issues relating to the EU. “On Tuesday we hope that we will have a better idea where the negotiations are going,” sources told CNA. The leaders are also due to have meetings on May 11 and 17.
Eide, who is currently abroad, is due back in Cyprus on Monday.

In analysis articles on Sunday Phileleftheros and other media were reporting that the aim now from the Turkish side appeared to be the convening of a new Geneva conference on security and guarantees before the end of July. Phileleftheros said this also appeared to coincide with Eide’s agenda, and added that Nicosia was being presented with “blackmail and dilemmas’ and that this was primarily being orchestrated to freeze the energy plans of the Republic.

“According to an informed source, the Turkish side aims to prevent the energy planning of the Republic by using actions at different levels,” the paper said.

First would be instructing the Turkish seismic survey vessel Barbaros, which has been lurking off the north-eastern coast for a week, to enter Cyprus’s EEZ “aimed at creating a climate of tension and intimidation, questioning the sovereignty of our country and creating new faits accomplis”, the sources said.

On a new Geneva conference, the paper said, it was obvious that international players would try to squeeze the Greek Cypriot side on drilling, arguing that in view of the conference, there should be a postponement. The UN would be included in those international players, the article said, as drilling would upset their plans to reach a settlement quickly, and would also satisfy Ankara.