UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has voiced his intention to readdress the Cyprus problem within the framework of his term. Foreign Minister Constantinos Kombos unveiled this insight during an interview with K newspaper, referring to a meeting between Kombos and Guterres in New York last July.
Guterres expressed his commitment to re-engage on the Cyprus problem, signaling his willingness to appoint an envoy provided that Turkey's intentions receive clarification. Kombos elaborated, "There was a pending communication between the secretary-general and President Erdogan, wherein he indicated his intention to seek specific answers. This implies that the Secretary-General believes in our side's intentions and anticipates responses from the other party, notably Turkey, to chart the course forward."
The Delay in Envoy Appointment
Kombos fielded inquiries about the delayed envoy appointment. He cited two underlying concerns. Foremost, the uncertainty surrounding Turkey's intentions. Secondly, the historical precedent of discord over the envoy's terms of reference posed a challenge.
Guterres' Perspective on Enhanced EU Involvement
Addressing the Republic of Cyprus' initiative for more robust EU engagement, Kombos outlined Guterres' perspective. He emphasized that Guterres perceives this approach as constructive and beneficial. Kombos remarked, "Our enhanced engagement at the EU level has fostered dynamism and influenced Guterres' current stance. Without such momentum, what would compel the Secretary-General to re-engage? Our EU efforts have fueled this positive shift."
Responding to the question of whether the EU's more active involvement is deemed satisfactory, Kombos confirmed, "Indeed. We were specifically requested by Ms. DiCarlo to elaborate on the distinctive aspects differentiating this approach from the EU's historical role. We clarified that the two roles are not in competition."
Regarding the potential appointment of a European envoy, Kombos acknowledged its consideration. "Our priority is the resumption of substantive negotiations. The procedural requirement for an envoy remains, traditionally appointed through the UN channel. If this is complemented by a European envoy, it would be even more advantageous," Kombos affirmed.
The Cyprus issue has persisted since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied the island's northern third. Various attempts at UN-led peace talks have failed to yield a resolution. The most recent negotiations in July 2017, held in Switzerland's Crans-Montana, concluded inconclusively.