With the latest European Council Conclusions, the objective that the President of the Republic had set from the first moment he took office, the interconnection of the Euro-Turkish issues with the progress on the Cyprus problem, is being implemented, Government Spokesman, Konstantinos Letymbiotis said on Friday.

He further said that the UN Secretary General’s personal envoy to Cyprus is expected to visit Cyprus in early May.

The Spokesman was speaking to reporters during the weekly briefing at the Presidential Palace where he was asked about the European Council Conclusions and what is the next step in relation to the contacts of the UN Secretary General’s personal envoy.

According to Letymbiotis, the European Council Conclusions of the day in essence, implement the objective set by the President of the Republic, from the very first moment he took office, “namely, the linking of Euro-Turkish issues with progress on Cyprus”.

The Republic of Cyprus and the European Union, he said, sent a specific, “positive message” to the Turkish side, “that we are, we want to be constructive and there can be progress on the points, on the chapters that interest Turkey, as long as there is corresponding progress on the Cyprus problem”.

Through a gradual, proportionate and reversible approach, he added, the implementation of what the report of the European Commission and the High Representative envisages should proceed in the coming period.

The Spokesman said the UN Secretary General’s personal envoy to Cyprus, Maria Angela Holguin, is expected to visit Cyprus in early May and will also meet with the President of the Republic “to see together the next steps”.

“What we will reiterate, once again, is our unwavering commitment to efforts to resume negotiations from the point where they have been suspended, as the European Union itself has stressed, our commitment to the Security Council resolutions and the agreed framework,” he said.

Government sources noted the timing of the Conclusions, with the visit of Holguin to European capitals and Brussels, as “practical proof” of the Republic of Cyprus on how high it sets the resumption of negotiations “and how credible it is”, noting that it is one of the most important developments at the moment, also with regard to the Cyprus problem.

The same sources said that the linking of progress on the Cyprus issue with Euro-Turkish issues was the result of efforts launched a year ago to link what Turkey is interested in in relation to the EU with progress on the Cyprus issue.

The Government has demonstrated in practice, the sources said, something that was also said in the European Council debate  “that it is credible in what it proclaims”.

They also noted that last March, in the first European Council the President of the Republic attended, he raised the issue of linking the Euro-Turkish issue with the Cyprus problem, and then, in the June Council, it was the first time the discussion took place, where the wording refers to the EU’s willingness to play an active role at all stages with all means, something which is repeated in the latest text of the Conclusions.

On the basis of the June conclusions, the report of Josep Borrell, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy was presented in November while the latest conclusions were reached on the basis of that report.

Negotiations on the Conclusions were held at two levels, as the Cyprus News Agency has learnt, in the Permanent Representatives Committee, in front of all Member States, where the request of the Republic of Cyprus to link progress on the Cyprus problem with the Euro-Turkish issues received a lot of support from many Member States.

The second level of the negotiation, which is traditionally between smaller groups, involved the Republic of Cyprus, Greece, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, and the office of the President of the European Council, at the level of the representatives (sherpa). The delegates came up with a text that was largely agreed upon and thus the leaders were able to deal with the substance, the same sources said, noting that there were also contacts at the political level.

Regarding Turkey’s reaction to the Conclusions, the same sources said that Ankara wanted the Borrell report to be adopted without any preconditions, but the European Council’s response was that Turkey would not be given a carte blanche and that it must comply with some obligations, some of which concern Cyprus.

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. The latest round of negotiations, in July 2017 at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana ended inconclusively.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres appointed María Ángela Holguín Cuéllar of Columbia as his personal envoy for Cyprus, to assume a Good Offices role on his behalf and search for common ground on the way forward in the Cyprus issue.

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