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28 May, 2024
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Cypriot leaders lunch with UN chief

Cyprus talks hanging by a thread as both sides bite their tongue ahead of lunch in search of middle ground


UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres is set to meet with Cyprus’ two community leaders on Monday in New York, with reports pointing to statements on both sides that could hold the key to any chance of things moving forward despite low expectations.

During a press conference in New York last week, Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades said his “optimism for reaching a settlement is limited due to the extreme views” held by Ankara and Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar.

The Greek Cypriot leader also told an audience during a dinner in New York that “no blackmail, threats, or pressure can be accepted on the Cyprus issue.”

But according to Kathimerini Cyprus, Guterres is prepared to throw a life vest to salvage the prospect of resuming peace talks. Additional reports said the UN chief was prepared to enlist a Personal Envoy on the matter.

Pavlos Xanthoulis, who joined Kathimerini earlier this year, wrote in his opinion piece on Sunday that the newspaper had learned Britain’s initiative with informal ideas on restarting negotiations could be the “tinder” in the stalled peace process.

“The two sides have already made moves that cannot go unnoticed,” Xanthoulis explained.

A secession clause could eliminate sovereign equality not favored by Greek Cypriots, but the Turkish Cypriot side is likely to insist that sovereign equality be respected before talks resume

On one hand, Xanthoulis wrote, Anastasiades made an opening when he expressed the hope about “restarting creative dialogue without prerequisites,” with the veteran reporter arguing the President’s statement gave the impression that everything was on the table.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, on the other hand, made references in his UN speech last week where he described Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots as co-owners of the divided island, adding that “for a solution, it is necessary to reaffirm the sovereign equality and equal international status of the Turkish Cypriot people.”

Xanthoulis says the Turkish president stayed away from any mention of a “two-state solution,” a formula that is a non-starter and anathema to the Greek Cypriot leadership that wants another try for a bizonal, bicommunal federation.

“It is likely that a squaring of the circle could be achieved through the British ‘informal ideas’ as sovereign equality within a confederation framework can be viewed as middle ground between bizonal bicommunal federation and two separate states,” Xanthoulis said.

Earlier this year, Nicosia expressed irritation over Britain’s position within the UN Security Council where the UK noted that a bicommunal, bizonal federation “provided a framework for a variety of possible arrangements,” suggesting there was room for finding common ground.

Britain reportedly argued the wording of their statement was addressing concerns of the two sides, the Greek Cypriots in the south and the Turkish Cypriots in the north of the divided island.

Xanthoulis said Kathimerini has learned that a secession clause has made an appearance in recent discussions, referring to Turkish Cypriots having “a way out” in case things go wrong in post-settlement Cyprus.

The writer said foreign diplomats were suggesting such a measure could eliminate the sovereign equality issue that is not favored by Greek Cypriots, while pointing out the Turkish Cypriot side is likely to insist that sovereign equality be respected before talks resume.

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