Philip Hammond discusses Cyprus settlement talks with Cypriot Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides

Philip Hammond discusses Cyprus settlement talks with Cypriot Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides
Cyprus Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides was received at the British Foreign Office by Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond on Wednesday afternoon, with the two men discussing various aspects of the Cyprus problem, European issues and security in the eastern Mediterranean.
The meeting followed a Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group meeting at Marlborough House, which Kasoulides chaired, and concluded a two-day visit of the Cypriot Minister to London.
Hammond was the latest European counterpart that Kasoulides met, after talks with Frank-Walter Steinmeyer and Jean-Marc Ayrault in Berlin and Paris respectively.
The discussion focused mainly on the ongoing settlement talks between Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci.
“We presented a picture of where things stand at the moment. We also talked about some serious concerns that we have regarding the settlers, a very serious and complex issue which could only be easily resolved if we maintained the demographic composition of Cyprus to the 80:20, or 4:1 ratio,” stated Kasoulides.
“We expressed concern over the intention which is supported by Ankara to give ‘citizenship’ to another 25,000 settlers from Turkey, something that completely shutters the equation and all that already exists as a common understanding between the two sides,” he added.
Kasoulides and Hammond also discussed the need to start considering ways of seeking financial resources to fund the settlement in Cyprus. “This requires interest from the private sector as well, an interest that according to British estimates could be forthcoming.”
The Cypriot FM also commented the pace of progress in the ongoing negotiations, outlining: “Despite the Turkish side wrongly suggesting that any deceleration in progress would be down to the elections in the Republic of Cyprus, we have always maintained that the elections do not affect us.
“It needs to be proven immediately after May 22, especially from the Turkish side from which there are answers pending, that there will be an acceleration of the talks. Otherwise, the elections will have been nothing more but an excuse.”
Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. UN-led talks resumed in May last year aiming to reunite the island under a federal roof.