The two Cypriot leaders and media coverage of their separate discussions with the UN chief in Geneva could not be more diametrically opposed, with the parties in the 5+1 meeting called to reflect on their positions before assembling again on Thursday.
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According to Kathimerini Cyprus, there were intense consultations on Wednesday in Geneva, during the second day of a three-day informal gathering hosted by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres.
Kathimerini correspondent Yiorgos Kakouris hinted on Wednesday evening at possible efforts by Guterres to keep the effort alive, with sources pointing to the UN chief possibly leaning towards deferring to a special envoy after the end of the informal meeting or possibly following up with the parties a few months later.
The UN chief is hosting the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot leaders, along with foreign ministers of the divided island’s three guarantor countries – Greece, Turkey, and Britain – but there were no signs of a breakthrough yet.
Additional reports said the Turkish and Turkish Cypriot side had reservations over Guterres’ plans after Geneva, while the Cyprus News Agency said the UN chief called on all parties reflect before meeting again Thursday late morning.
Local media said Cypriot Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides had been working the phones Wednesday night, discussing the latest developments from the UN dinner with his French and Russian counterparts, as well as US officials.
President Nicos Anastasiades also told Greek Cypriot media on Wednesday night that he was disappointed over positions put forth by Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar.
“I must say I have heard with great disappointment what Tatar said and even submitted in writing, and of course, I have told the Secretary General that our effort was to create a positive climate, without provocations, without making references to all the unacceptable things we have heard,” the Greek Cypriot leader said.
Anastasiades, who supports peace talks on a federation model, said he told Guterres the Greek Cypriot side would also submit its positions “written in a scientific way and not only from a political perspective.”
Earlier reports said Tatar made good on his campaign promise by introducing to Guterres a two-state basis for solution, a new position in the negotiations that fall outside a UN-backed framework for a federal Cyprus.
"We expressed our own views clearly. Of course, there is no change in our position and there won't be," Tatar told reporters after his meeting.
Tatar also shared a two-page document with six principles, saying Turkish Cypriots would never give up on their sovereign rights in Cyprus.
Greek Cypriot media said the UN chief expressed pointed out to Tatar during their meeting that it was not easy to give up on decades worth of peace talks on the basis of a federal solution.
But Tatar dismissed the reports, saying Guterres had known all along about the Turkish Cypriot position before inviting him to Geneva.
Tatar, who says a federal model is not realistic anymore, told Turkish Cypriot media that he told the parties about “injustice inflicted on Turkish Cypriots by the UN, the EU, and the international community.”
“When I checked the room, I saw that everyone knew how right we were. I think everyone knows that no results can come from this old understanding," Tatar said.
Anastasiades says the Greek Cypriot side would remain committed to the previously-agreed UN parameters.
“We remain firm to our positions that there needs to be respect for the parameters of the resolutions, the High-Level Agreements, the work that has been produced so far, the statement of 25 November 2019, and certainly the UNSG’s letter of October 26 that says that we must work on the basis of the work that has been produced until today,” the Cypriot president said.
UN chief told five parties to reflect overnight before gathering Thursday to make an exit, Greek and Turkish views still at odds