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13 June, 2024
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Cuellar's strategic plan to ease tensions in Cyprus problem

UN envoy returns to Nicosia for crucial talks on Cyprus deadlock

Yiannis Ioannou

Yiannis Ioannou

The return of UN Secretary-General's Personal Envoy, Maria Angela Holguín Cuéllar, to Nicosia on Tuesday evening marks a pivotal moment since her appointment last January and holds the key to breaking the ongoing seven-year deadlock in Cyprus talks. The Colombian diplomat will be in Cyprus until May 14, starting her engagements immediately on Wednesday, May 8, with separate meetings scheduled with the two leaders. She will meet with President Christodoulides on Wednesday morning at 10 am and then with Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar at 12 pm in the occupied territories.

Over the past two months, Holguín Cuéllar has visited the capitals of the three guarantor powers (Athens, Ankara, and London). In the last twenty days alone, she completed a tour in Berlin, Paris, and Brussels before arriving in Cyprus on Wednesday night from Turkey, where she met with Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan. Notably, while she has met with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, she has yet to meet at the level of Ankara with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan.

In addition to her meetings with the two leaders, Ms. Holguín Cuéllar's visit, as officially announced by the UN, will involve a comprehensive schedule of engagements beyond official circles. This includes meetings with representatives from business sectors, civil society, and organized NGOs from both sides of the divide. Sources familiar with the situation indicate that Ms. Holguín Cuéllar, drawing from her experience in the Colombian peace process, intends to engage with various segments of society and organized business groups along the Green Line to facilitate progress in the talks. This approach could pave the way for further confidence-building measures, complementing the package of 14 measures announced by the Greek Cypriot side.

During her first visit to Cyprus, Holguín Cuéllar's approach was exploratory, and she was unable to arrange a joint meeting with the two leaders. This time, she aims to propose a trilateral meeting involving Mr. Christodoulides and Mr. Tatar, building on recent diplomatic efforts and support from the EU, as well as last-minute contacts with Ankara. Well-informed sources suggest that Holguín Cuéllar is keen on advancing towards a joint meeting that:

- The Turkish Cypriot leader would find difficult to reject, especially with Ankara's backing.
- Successfully addresses the fundamentally opposed starting positions of the two sides, paving the way for continued and conclusive discussions.
- Aligns with the timeline of her mandate, considering that the Cyprus problem typically garners attention during the UN General Assembly in September, allowing for strategic planning of next steps.

[This article was translated from its Greek original]


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