President Nicos Anastasiades met on June 29 , 2015 with the Turkish Cypriot leader Mr Mustafa Akinci in the framework of the UN-led talks on the Cyprus problem. After the meeting the UN Secretary General`s Special Adviser on Cyprus Espen Barth Eide delivered the following statement, on behalf of the two leaders:
“Determined to keep the pace of their meetings and in line with their joint commitment to a leader-led process, the Greek Cypriot leader, Mr. Nicos Anastasiades, and the Turkish Cypriot leader, Mr. Mustafa Akıncı, met today in a positive and results-oriented atmosphere. The leaders are now immersed in substantive negotiations. Their focus is on unresolved core issues. To enable their discussions today, the negotiators provided the leaders with an update on the work they have carried out on a specific set of core issues across the chapters of governance, property and criteria on territory. Mr. Akıncı and Mr. Anastasiades discussed those issues at length in a pragmatic and constructive manner, making further progress. They provided new guidance to the negotiators.
On the topic of confidence building measures, the leaders continued their exchange. They took stock of the work done to implement already agreed confidence building measures, expressing satisfaction with the progress made to date. Mr. Anastasiades and Mr. Akıncı expect that practical solutions to any pending issues will soon be found, bringing the implementation of those measures closer to completion.The leaders exchanged views on the economic prospects that would arise from a solution. With substantive negotiations now at the centre of their work, Mr. Akıncı and Mr. Anastasiades reiterated their resolve to reach a comprehensive settlement as soon as possible. Within the positive climate, the leaders will jointly participate in the event that will be co-organized by the Cyprus Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Turkish Cypriot Chamber of Commerce. They will also jointly participate in a meeting with religious leaders. Their next leaders’ meeting will be on Friday, 10 July.
The President of the European Commission, Jean Claude Juncker, paid a two-day official visit to Cyprus on July16 and 17, 2015, his first official bilateral visit to an EU Member State since becoming President of the Commission. During the visit Mr Juncker was received by President Anastasiades.
In statements to the Press, President Anastasiades noted that “undoubtedly, the EU constitutes the best safeguard and guarantee of the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all Cypriots, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots alike. The EU’s role and more active engagement and support in the negotiations, which are under the auspices of the United Nations’ Good Offices Mission, is of utmost importance, particularly as we have entered into substantive negotiations of all chapters. President Juncker and I share the view that a comprehensive settlement to the Cyprus problem would benefit all parties, the EU and the wider region. Turkey’s role in reaching a settlement is vital, and we expect that Turkey will contribute concretely to the efforts to reach a settlement.”
President Anastasiades added that “during today’s fruitful meeting the President and I have also discussed economic issues. We exchanged views on a wide range of issues, including the prospects for the country’s economy and how Cyprus can benefit in the most optimal way from the European Fund for Strategic Investment. I briefed Mr Juncker on the leaps of progress achieved in the recovery of the Cyprus economy and the implementation of the economic adjustment programme. Our commitment in implementing the Programme, the resilience of our economy and of the Cypriot people, is yielding positive results. We have successfully returned to the international markets and, since the beginning of July, we participate in the Quantitative Easing Programme of the European Central Bank. Challenges still remain ahead, but I am confident that we can address and overcome them.”
In his own reply, Mr Juncker said that “Cyprus found itself in a difficult economic position in 2013, but the Cyprus I am visiting today is very different. The economy is beginning to grow, the financial sector has stabilised and you are again ready to take advantage of the opportunities of the future. I want to pay tribute to President Anastasiades and to the Cypriot people for your commitment to the programme of recovery. Tough decisions and commitment paid off in Cyprus, as they did in Ireland, Portugal and Spain. I hope that others will take note.”
He added that “the Cyprus I am visiting today is a beacon of stability and European values in a troubled part of the world. You are a stable actor because you are European and this is a source of benefits but also, mainly, of responsibilities. You are on the EU’s front line and you can be an example to others – an example of growth, co-operation and a broad-minded approach.
As far as the settlement negotiations are concerned, I want to express not only my personal hope but of all Europeans that we do take the opportunity we now have thanks to your efforts and the efforts of the other leader to come to a good conclusion. This is a unique opportunity and we should not lose the momentum. I am convinced that you are determined to put all the efforts needed into ways to come to a good solution.”
In other public statements Mr Juncker said that: “[…] I met the two leaders earlier today and I believe that they can solve the Cyprus problem. The word ‘compromise’ should not have negative connotations. Believe me: in the European Union it is the key word for everyday business. All the ingredients for a solution are now there. I know that this process will not be an easy one, but I also know that it can be done. And believe me, if done, it will be a win-win situation for all Cypriots but also for Europe. I shall personally spare no effort for this to happen as soon as possible.
And I have to say, after the talks I had with the two leaders, I am very optimistic. They trust each other. They have a common determination and willingness to conclude a final solution for a very old problem. This is one of the remaining major conflicts we have in Europe. The two leaders can be trusted that they will be able to find a solution to this highly complicated problem as long as the two communities are respecting each other, and they are. I am really impressed by the friendship existing between the two leaders. I reappointed Pieter Van Nuffel as my personal representative in the Cyprus settlement negotiations. He will directly report to me and I feel personally committed to the success of these demanding efforts the leaders and the two communities are undertaking for the time being.
I’m happy to announce that we found a common understanding as far as the geographic protection of “Halloumi/Hellim” cheese under EU law is concerned. This common understanding, which is not a small thing, because it is important for the two communities,is highly symbolic and it is a strong symbol in fact that confirms the willingness of the two parties to work together with the help of the Commission to build confidence with concrete measures.”