Newsroom / CNA
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres is sending a special envoy to Cyprus in the coming weeks, hoping to get crystal clear views from both sides in order to assess whether or not a new push for peace is possible.
According to CNA News, Guterres said he intends to send a senior UN official to conduct in-depth consultations with the parties on the efforts to solve the Cyprus issue.
According to the advance copy of the Report of the Secretary-General on progress towards a settlement in Cyprus, which briefed members of the Security Council, the UNSG said “I believe there is still scope for the sides to act responsibly and decisively in order to chart a common way forward for the island.”
“In the coming period, I intend to send a senior United Nations official to conduct in-depth consultations with the parties. The consultations will provide a more formal, structured, and detailed channel for the parties to convey to the United Nations the outcomes of their reflection since Crans-Montana and to help determine whether conditions have or have not matured at this stage for a meaningful process. I encourage the parties to recognize the importance of this exercise and to seize the opportunity accordingly.”
Referring to Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades, Guterres said he “repeatedly confirmed his publicly stated position that he was ready to negotiate on the basis of the framework that I put forward in Crans-Montana, subject to good preparations for a possible reconvening of the Conference on Cyprus, including through shuttle diplomacy.”
Anastasiades “clarified, however, that no negotiations could take place while ‘Turkish provocations’ continued in Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone,” Guterres added.
As regards to Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci, the UNSG noted that “Mr. Akıncı also confirmed his commitment to the six-point framework that I introduced at Crans-Montana to resolve the core outstanding issues in a strategic package.”
But Guterres also said that Akinci “indicated, however, that he would not take part in ‘open-ended’ negotiations; he stood ready to engage in ‘time bound, well structured, and results oriented’ talks.”
With respect to the guarantor powers, the UNSG said that in public statements since July 2017, Turkey expressed doubts as to the possibility of reaching a settlement based on the established parameters, given the Crans-Montana outcome and past failures, adding that Turkey has nonetheless reiterated its support for a “sustainable settlement” of the Cyprus issue.
On Greece’s part, Guterres says, the country reiterated its commitment to finding a just and lasting solution to the Cyprus problem on the basis of United Nations Security Council resolutions “and the framework that I had set down in Crans-Montana.”
Finally, the UNSG notes that the United Kingdom has emphasized its strong support for a comprehensive settlement and its readiness to do its part to achieve that goal.
Recent informal talks
Guterres also touched on the last informal meeting between the two leaders back in April 2018, when the two leaders met in the UN Buffer Zone under the auspices of his Deputy Special Adviser Elizabeth Spehar.
The Secretary General remarked that both leaders underscored that the meeting did not constitute a resumption of negotiations but did provide an opportunity to ascertain “where they stood” currently on the Cyprus issue.
The elusive UN framework
Guterres also recalled in his report that in late April, two weeks after the informal meeting, Akıncı made a public statement in which he said: “If the Greek Cypriot side is ready to accept the Guterres framework as it was presented without diluting, let’s declare it as a strategic package agreement.”
“Mr. Akıncı added that, through announcing it as a strategic agreement, the negotiations would be meaningful as they would be held with the aim of filling the gaps under the strategic agreement.”
The UNSG’s report says that Anastasiades issued a written response two days later, “in which he replied that if Mr. Akıncı accepted the framework of Mr. Guterres “as it was presented to the sides on 4 July 2017, this is a positive development.”
Anastasiades called on Mr. Akıncı, said Guterres in his report, and “primarily Turkey” to “clarify whether they accept” specific provisions of the framework related to security and guarantees and foreign troops.”
Trying to get to the bottom
“These statements led to a further public exchange between the sides that suggested that the leaders had diverging interpretations of certain aspects of the framework. The consultations which I intend to launch through a senior UN official in the coming weeks will provide an opportunity for the sides to formally clarify where they stand on this issue” Guterres says.
The UNSG noted that “it is my firm belief that, for a process of such complexity and political sensitivity to be successful, a balanced and comprehensive package approach on specific key issues needs to be followed”.
“Should the sides jointly decide to resume talks, the six-point framework that I introduced in Crans-Montana on 30 June 2017 could form the basis for negotiations aimed at reaching a strategic agreement and paving the way for the comprehensive settlement.
The framework contained elements related to territory, political equality, property, equivalent treatment, and security and guarantees. I introduced it in an attempt to help the parties resolve the remaining core outstanding issues interdependently and overcome the challenge of negotiating across chapters.”
“I remain convinced”, the UNSG added, “that a comprehensive settlement would bring substantial benefits and opportunities to both communities on the island and would contribute to overall peace and stability in the region.”
“At a strategic and political level, a settlement would help repair decades of division and mistrust, soothe tensions that might escalate into conflict, and assist in cultivating neighbourly relations between traditionally adversarial countries in the eastern Mediterranean”.
Referring to the guarantor powers, he points out that they will also, without doubt, need to do their part and engage in a determined and constructive manner.
The report on Guterres’ mission of good offices in Cyprus took into account developments from 12 August 2017 through 21 May 2018.