The weeks ahead are critical, as far the negotiations for a political settlement in Cyprus are concerned, according to the negotiator of the Greek Cypriot community Ambassador Andreas Mavroyiannis, who says “things are not easy.”

Nonetheless, he appears optimistic that talks can yield results and stresses the need for “a crystal clear and tangible outcome” from the first meeting between the leaders of the island’s two communities, Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades and the leader of the Turkish Cypriot side Dervis Eroglu.

In an interview with CNA, Mavroyiannis said that negotiations must adopt a holistic approach, since all issues under discussion are inter-connected. He believes that some kind of agreement on the core issues could be within reach in no more than several months.

He also said that, given Cyprus’ EU membership, Brussels must have a political presence in the negotiating process.

Asked about sufficient preparation for the resumption of negotiations, to be marked by a meeting between Anastasiades and Eroglu, he explained that negotiations are not limited to meetings between the negotiators or the leaders of the two communities.

“We do not want to have a meeting between the two leaders for the sake of having one, or we would be risking returning to the past, with endless discussions but no result. And this is exactly what we want to avoid,” he said, pointing out that the only way to get concrete results is to engage in a holistic approach on the issues at hand and discuss them in conjunction with each other since they are inter-related.

Ambassador Mavroyiannis stressed that the two sides must clarify what they are seeking to achieve, before negotiations actually resume and they must also reaffirm, as clearly as possible, the basis of the negotiations.

On the positions outlined so far by the Turkish Cypriot negotiator, during their meetings, he said “there are difficulties, there is a big gap in our approach and we have to find ways to come closer because if we cannot manage to prepare properly the leaders’ meeting, there is no point in having such a meeting.”

“We want to discuss the issues in a comprehensive, holistic and direct manner in order to have progress,” he said, explaining that the territorial issue is closely linked to the property issue, just as the powers of the central government are linked to the powers of the constituent states.

Ambassador Mavroyiannis reiterated his readiness to work hard – day and night if need be – to get to a solution.

“At this stage we are still sounding things out. The next few weeks will be crucial, things are not easy but I am optimistic that we can succeed. The clearer the outcome of the meeting between the leaders, the better for all of us,” he stressed.

He said that the Greek Cypriot side does not subscribe to the idea of setting timeframes for the negotiations which would act as a guillotine over the interlocutors.

“I would say that if both sides had political determination and the disposition to handle the issues in such a way that would address the concerns of both of them and if one could ensure that the end product of the negotiations will be a modern European functional society, then something can be done pretty soon,” Ambassador Mavroyiannis said.

He indicated that as far as the core issues are concerned, “one would not need more than a few months” to reach some kind of an agreement, acknowledging that some details may still need to be finalized in legal terms.

Replying to questions, he said there are indications that there is a slight shift in Turkey’s attitude on Cyprus, “a somewhat more positive approach to the idea of a solution”. “Having said that, it is rather difficult, at this stage, to assess the extent of this somewhat different approach,” he added.

Invited to identify the reasons behind this discernible change, he referred to changes in the geopolitical situation in the area, to a shift in Cyprus’ foreign policy, to Turkey’s reassessment of its European aspirations as well as to a more active role by players in the international community, in addition to developments in Cyprus’ northern Turkish occupied areas.

“In this respect, I believe that our determined stance to give an impetus to the solution effort, which has been acknowledged by the UN and the international community, has also played a role,” he added, pointing out that the objective is to secure to the best possible degree the restoration of the rights of all Cypriots.

He said the “we want to secure a better future for our country, through a European dimension in whatever we do towards a solution. Nobody can suggest that this European dimension does not provide sufficient guarantees and security for a democratic county which will safeguard fully everybody’s rights.”

A more active EU involvement, he said, does not, in any way, substitute the UN Secretary General’s good offices mission and he explained that anything agreed, during parallel processes, must be channeled through what he called a “funnel”, the UN framework.

Asked how government efforts are seen by the international community, Mavroyiannis noted that there is increased interest in a successful outcome, which could lead to a change in the dynamics of these efforts.

“I would say that we are convincing that we mean business, we are determined and decisive to make headway. However, our credibility is not inexhaustible, either in terms of time or quantity and we have to apply it in the best possible manner to achieve tangible results,” he said.

UN-led talks are widely expected to resume later this year. Repeated rounds of talks between the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot communities have yet to lead to a comprehensive settlement. The most recent round of talks was interrupted by the Turkish Cypriot side in July 2012, who objected to Cyprus’ presidency of the European Council.

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