There is always a sense of revelation when one reads through diplomatic reports. In contrast to popular belief, reports that are prepared by properly trained professionals are not simply a delicately phrased historical summary of events. Diplomatic reports are narratives where the agency of actors is the primary information, exemplified by delving into the context in which political actors operate, and their motives. Projections are made based on the effect those actions have on the wider political landscape. Thus the outcome is not random, it is measured based on the possibility that agency will lead to a specific result.
The United Nations report on the progress made by envoy Jane Lute is such a report. The draft document which has emerged on the 16th of April was heralded as ‘an improvement’ and as ‘positive’ by the government. Be that as it may the government’s public reaction to the report raises serious questions. Why is it welcomed as a positive report? Where exactly does the government see favourable elements in this report? Why this sudden bewilderment, this confusion?
If we are to be honest with ourselves and our constituents then we need to recognize that Guterres in his report explicitly articulates that there is no political will for a solution. This point is reiterated by referring to the lack of political engagement even though public perception surveys call for rapprochement. Guterres says the following in paragraph 7: ‘’In the reporting period, the two sides generally did not succeed in assuaging the scepticism among the public that the necessary political will exists to reach a comprehensive settlement through a meaningful, results-oriented process. The continuing uncertainty about the future of the peace process appeared to deter the two communities’ political engagement, even though public perception surveys have registered their desire for greater involvement and participation. This uncertainty also risks further eroding the belief in the prospects for reunification in the two communities’’.
If we are to be honest with ourselves and our constituents then we need to recognize that Guterres in his report explicitly articulates that there is no political will for a solution
The Cyprus problem negotiations have always been determined by election tactics. The blame game is a productive endeavour to the degree that it helps a party gain power. What is important and crucial for the current state of our society, is not the dilemma between solution and permanent partition -reports are in that that ship has sailed- but instead the erosion of political accountability as a consequence of the untruthfulness and deceit that is embedded in the Cyprus problem news cycle. In defining morality of choice, there is no excuse for misleading the public as to what the future holds.
In paragraph 10 the UN report paints the picture of a leadership that is not true to its words - that cannot be trusted. ‘’During the consultations, all parties reiterated their commitment to finding a way forward. However, while the sides have expressed their respective commitments to prior convergences and desire to preserve the advances that brought us to Crans Montana nearly two years ago, efforts to forge those commitments and desires into terms of reference that would serve as a basis for resumed conclusive negotiations have not yet succeeded. Indeed, recent public rhetoric on the island – in tone and substance – has emphasized the differences..’’.
In other words the sides recognize and accept previously agreed convergences, declare readiness to move forward from where they left off at Crans Montana but fail to translate words into action.
Moving forward Guterres names the two leaders as the agents responsible for guiding the overall process which is a diplomatic way of articulating that they do not contribute to a positive political atmosphere. ‘’I encourage the sides, in particular the two leaders, to consider ways in which positive messaging and greater information about the process and the overall context can be further strengthened’’ Guterres notes.
Indeed as mentioned in the report a settlement will demand that each side accept less than the fullest measure of satisfaction on every issue. Tough decisions necessitate political will. Ends however do not justify the means and we might see a different picture too late.