Tomorrow’s meeting will be the 14th between the leaders since the talks resumed on September 3 last year.
At their last meeting on December 22, they both said that although some progress had been made, it was insufficient. But they reaffirmed their commitment to do everything in their power to reach a settlement as soon as possible.
Both reiterated this in messages over the holiday period. Christofias said on Friday night during the cutting of the Vasilopita at AKEL that 2009 would be full of difficulties, not least when it came to the Cyprus issue, given what he called a newer hardline stance coming from the Turkish Cypriot side.
But he warned that the Greek Cypriot side would not make unacceptable concessions or shift its position on aiming for a federation in Cyprus.
“We are facing a new year, which will be full of difficulties… difficulties in regard to the handling the Cyprus problem because I regret to have to say once again, things seem to have changed course with the Turkish Cypriot side following another line now, tougher, less fair, beyond and outside what was agreed at times between the two parties,” he said.
While sending a message of friendship and understanding to Talat he added: “But let no one be under the illusion that the Greek Cypriot side will make unacceptable concessions or shift positions that would turn a federation into a loose federation or confederation.”
In his New Year message, Talat said the Turkish Cypriots had started to look forward to their future with hope, since talks began last September.
“With the election of Demetris Christofias… a new hope for peace was born, and this is how the negotiations process started,” he said.
Talat said he hoped 2009 would be the year when peace would be found in Cyprus.
During tomorrow’s meeting, the leaders are expected to continue discussing external affairs and powers and also some constitutional questions still outstanding.
The UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative in Cyprus Taye-Brook Zerihoun will host the meeting, while Special Representative Alexander Downer will be present at the talks which will follow on January 12 and 16.
By Jean Christou, Cyprus Mail, January 4, 2009