Hurriyet newspaper reports that Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akıncı has pointed to mid-2017 for a referendum on the island for the citizens of both of the communities to decide whether or not to accept a peace deal aimed at being reached before the end of 2016.
“A few months of 2017 will be used to try to finalize the writing of the constitution and the federal laws, and all the technical issues … If the end of the year  goal [to reach a peace deal] is reached and the technical issues are completed, a necessary portion of time will also be given to the public to make a conscious decision in the referendum. Then we can talk about mid-2017 for the referendum,” said Akıncı.
He was speaking after the first meeting of October with his Greek Cypriot counterpart Nicos Anastasiades and the United Nations special advisor on the island, Espen Barth Eide, on Oct. 4 in Nicosia. The meeting was also the first between the three after a trilateral meeting with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Sept. 25 in New York on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly.
The island has been divided into a Turkish Cypriot administration in the north and a Greek Cypriot administration in the south since Turkey partially intervened in the north of the island on 1974 as a guarantor power after a coup sought unification with Greece.
Akıncı reiterated that the main goal was to “find a political solution before the end of 2016” as the sides seek to reunify the island under a federal system after more than 40 years of division.
This month, during which the sides were probably going to meet nine or 10 times, negotiations were scheduled to focus on the economy, EU affairs, governance and power-sharing, and property chapters, he added.
After reaching a general consensus on these four chapters, out of the total of six chapters that lie on the table to be negotiated throughout the peace talks, Akıncı said that they aimed at negotiating the territories chapters in a camp-like format that would take place in a foreign country in the first week of November.
“Then the next aim is to head for the quintet conference with the attendance of the guarantor states that will lead us to also tying the security and guarantorship chapters,” said Akıncı.
“We have once again confirmed together with Mr. Anastasiades and the U.N. the goal of reaching a deal by the end of 2016,” he added.
Talks resumed in May last year after Akıncı was elected as the Turkish Cypriot community leaders.