Historic State Visit from German Chancellor
German Chancellor Angela Merkel is set to arrive in Cyprus today for a five-hour historic visit to the island that has been described by government officials as "very important" because it underlines the sovereignty of the Republic of Cyprus.
She arrives at 12pm today at Larnaka Airport and will meet with President Demetris Christofias at the presidential palace. Merkel will visit the Goethe Centre in the UN buffer zone in Nicosia and meet with UN Secretary-general special representative Lisa Buttenheim at the Ledra Palace Hotel. A meeting with opposition leader Nikos Anastassiades is also on the cards.
Merkel's main objective is to offer Germany's help with the Cyprus issue, which has slowed Turkey's membership negotiations with the EU. The complex issue has also had a chill effect on relations between Greece and Turkey which are both members of NATO. NATO-EU cooperation has in turn been affected as Greece and Turkey withhold cooperation on joint security measures.
The chancellor has just left Malta, where she met with the political leadership.
Meanwhile, Turkey's chief EU negotiator Egemen Bagis made veiled threats aimed at the Cyprus government in comments reported by Anadolu agency.
“Greek Cypriots know very well that Turkey's EU process is their insurance policy. The ending of Turkey's EU process would be their nightmare,” he said at a press conference in Istanbul (Constantinople) yesterday.
He also said that Cyprus "should not try the patience of Turkey', referring to a recent hooligan attack on a Turkish team in Nicosia.
Eight chapters of Turkey's EU membership process have been frozen because the country refuses to recognise the Republic of Cyprus; instead demanding that the EU trade directly with the Turkish Cypriots as a separate state.
Talks to resolve the Cyprus issue are due to continue tomorrow January 12th between Christofias and Turkish-Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu.