Newly elected President Nikos Christodoulides said he will do everything possible to achieve a result at his unofficial meeting next week with the Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar.

Speaking after casting his vote in his hometown of Yeroskipou for the new Paphos bishop, Christodoulides, also said the current state of affairs cannot constitute a solution to the Cyprus problem and that talks should resume as soon as possible.

He told reporters that he attends his meeting with Tatar this week “with absolute seriousness to see how we can break the impasse in the Cyprus problem.”

The President-elect added “I have repeatedly said, that the current state of affairs cannot be the solution to the Cyprus problem and talks should resume as soon as possible, but it will be a first opportunity for a discussion.”

Asked if he has any expectations for the meeting, he said, “you go to every meeting with expectations. And be assured that from my side I will do everything possible to achieve a result. Things are not easy, I know the situation very well, but that does not mean that we will not try from our side whatever is possible.”

He also pointed to the European Council, taking place on March 23, in Brussels, which he described as a “very important European Council” and where he will have the opportunity to have many bilateral meetings beyond the Council where specific issues will be discussed.

Christodoulides said there is an agenda, but on the sidelines there are many meetings that concern exactly the Cyprus issue “and this what we said during the pre-election campaign, the need for the European Union to help break the impasse by having a leading role and to restart the negotiations.”

Christodoulides repeated his support to Turkey and to the Turkish Cypriot community for the victims of last week’s catastrophic earthquake. “Any event, even an earthquake, I believe it can indeed bring both countries closer”, he said referring to relations between Athens and Ankara and the statements from Greek and Turkish officials. 

Christodoulides said “we are not against the strengthening of relations between Ankara and Athens”.

At the same time he stressed that everyone appreciates that “full normalization (of relations) cannot be achieved without a solution to the Cyprus problem. What will we pursue? In the event that a new, better climate is created, we will utilize it in relation to the prospects for solving the Cyprus problem.”

Asked if he will pursue a meeting with the UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, who will be attending the working lunch at the European Council, Christodoulides said a message has already been conveyed to New York for such a meeting.

If it is feasible, based on the UN SG’s schedule, that will be a very positive development, added Christodoulides.

He said during his meeting with Tatar, the UN Special Representative Colin Stewart will be present and he hoped that there will be such result that will facilitate a meeting with the SG.

He underlined that it is important that Guterres will be present at the lunch in Brussels, adding that “this is what we are seeking” with the EU’s cooperation of which Cyprus is a member state, and will continue to be even after a possible solution to the Cyprus issue.

Asked about the status of a working document, Christodoulides said that it is in the final stage where “we explain why the EU can break the deadlock in Cyprus. It is a document whose preparation started before the presidential elections, we are in the final stage”, adding that he will share the document during his meetings in Brussels with EU High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell  and other EU officials.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. Repeated rounds of UN-led peace talks have so far failed to yield results.

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