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15 July, 2024
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Diplomatic efforts intensify amidst critical juncture

UN Envoy briefs Security Council as leaders navigate delicate path to resolving decades-long dispute

Yiannis Ioannou

Yiannis Ioannou

The diplomatically crucial time leading up to Friday is seen as particularly important for efforts to break the deadlock in the Cyprus talks. UN Secretary General's personal envoy, Maria Angela Holguin Cuellar, briefed the Security Council on her findings based on her observations and discussions since February in Cyprus and abroad. Essentially, she has given Antonio Guterres the initiative to determine how her efforts will move forward.

Well-informed sources tell K that the Colombian diplomat will keep the Cyprus process open, with the UN Secretary-General himself taking initiatives during or just before the UN General Assembly in September in New York. At the same time, experienced observers of the Cyprus problem in Athens and Nicosia assess the contacts of Greek Prime Minister Mitsotakis—late yesterday and on Friday—in Washington, both to send messages to Ankara and to coordinate with the UN. On Friday, the Cyprus problem will be discussed during Mitsotakis' one-on-one meeting with Antonio Guterres on the sidelines of the NATO Summit. Notably, Turkish President Erdogan will also meet the new Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Keir Starmer, on the sidelines of the NATO Summit. Additionally, there is information about a possible meeting between Erdogan and Biden and the participation of Mitsotakis and Erdogan in a dinner hosted by US President Biden.

...the UN would like to proceed, if possible in the future, with a "five-party" type conference on the Cyprus problem with the presence of Greece and Turkey.

The Axes

Three main axes of development are expected in the Cyprus problem based on the submission of Mrs. Holguin's report:

1. Retention of the Envoy: The Colombian Personal Envoy of the Secretary-General will remain in her post until the end of the year. This indicates that the UN does not want to declare a deadlock in the efforts to return to the Cyprus talks despite the failure in recent months to hold a joint meeting between the two leaders and the Personal Envoy during her stay in Cyprus.

2. Messages to Turkey: The presence of Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan in Cyprus on Saturday, July 20, is significant. It is possible that Holguin will meet again in the coming days with Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan, who is now in charge of the Cyprus dossier and is present at the NATO Summit.

3. Briefing of the UN Security Council: Ms. Holguin will provide an informal briefing to the five permanent members of the UN Security Council. Combined with her report (as well as the Secretary General's reports), this creates a general "flexibility" without a clear reference to the framework for a solution. This somewhat ambiguous approach is interpreted as reassuring for the Turkish Cypriot side and as a tool for realizing a trilateral meeting without Mr. Tatar raising further questions about this meeting beyond his status as leader of the Turkish Cypriot community.

Key Meetings and Significance

Kyriakos Mitsotakis' presence in Washington is significant, given that tomorrow he will meet with UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, with the Cyprus issue high on their agenda. This meeting is interpreted by a diplomatic source as an indication that the UN would like to proceed, if possible in the future, with a "five-party" type conference on the Cyprus problem with the presence of Greece and Turkey.

Any progress in Greek-Turkish relations, combined with calm in the Aegean, is also seen as helpful for the Cyprus issue and efforts to break the deadlock in the talks. The outcome of the brief one-on-one meeting between Mitsotakis and Erdogan yesterday afternoon (Washington time) is expected to become clearer during their simultaneous presence in Cyprus on July 20. The clue to how Ankara will move is also evident from the semantics of the Turkish President's statements during his presence in occupied northern Cyprus the following Saturday—especially regarding whether he will clearly state his support for a two-state solution and reiterate sovereign equality or take a more delaying stance towards the resumption of talks.

[This article was translated from its Greek original and edited for clarity]

Cyprus  |  Turkey  |  Cyprob

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