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21 June, 2024
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Navigating summer stalemates in the Cyprus conundrum

Exploring the seasonal ebb and flow of negotiations amidst international diplomacy and local dynamics

Yiannis Ioannou

Yiannis Ioannou

Historically, there has never been a peak in the Cyprus problem during the summer. The last significant event in Crans-Montana occurred at the start of the season.  In July and August, everything in Cyprus typically freezes over, only to pick up again in September on the margins of the UN General Assembly.

During her third visit to Cyprus, Ms. Holguin Cuellar met with both leaders, and the Greek Prime Minister also met with Turkish President Erdogan, clarifying the path forward. This was crystallized in her statements after her second meeting with President Christodoulides and in her interview with "K." The Cyprus issue also became an "agreement to disagree" topic between Athens and Ankara. Barring any unforeseen circumstances, Ms. Holguin Cuellar will report to the Security Council, prepare her findings from Cyprus, and inform UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

Guterres, now in his second term as head of the UN, will act as any head of the organization would.  Like his predecessors, he does not want the Cyprus problem to remain unresolved. However, this doesn't mean he won't put it on hold, as it has been for seven years.  Unless unexpected developments occur, the Secretary-General may consider a five-party meeting like the one in Geneva in 2021 and will test Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar, who has rejected a joint trilateral meeting with Ms. Holguin Cuellar and President Christodoulides.  If the Turkish Cypriot leadership, at Ankara's behest, insists on avoiding such a meeting, the future of the Cyprus problem looks bleak, but it will easily allow the Greek Cypriot side to engage in a blame game with third parties, despite its limited impact abroad.

But what happens if Tatar, faced with the Secretary General's request, agrees to a trilateral or five-party meeting, finding it difficult to reject such a direct proposal, possibly as a tactical move by Erdogan? This scenario becomes interesting and requires the Greek Cypriot side to consider it beyond the immediate process. Such a development could lead to a new deadlock or, with considerable difficulties, potentially break the stalemate in the talks.

As the summer season begins, it is essential for society, the academic and journalistic community, and the political system to consider the phase the Cyprus problem will enter in the coming months. This requires preparation for all eventualities, seriousness, scenario-building, elaboration, and honesty. September marks not only the 50th anniversary of the Turkish invasion but also a time for necessary reflection on this issue, with the current unacceptable status quo of occupation and separation. Honesty must be foremost about ourselves and the political leadership of this country.

Ms. Holguin Cuellar came, saw, and stated—without difficulty—what everyone has realized in recent years: the Cyprus problem is close to a critical point, and the consequences could be potentially disastrous for many Septembers to come.

Twitter: @JohnPikpas

[This article was translated from its Greek original]

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