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24 May, 2024
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Leaders meet amidst UN envoy appointment

President Christodoulides and Tatar engage in social dialogue, setting the stage for Cyprus talks resumption

Yiannis Ioannou

Yiannis Ioannou

President Christodoulides and Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar met under new circumstances, following developments in the appointment of the UN Secretary General's Special Envoy for Cyprus. Although framed as a social meeting during the annual reception of the UN Secretary General's Special Representative to Cyprus, Colin Stewart, the timing and semantics of the encounter carry their own implications. Given that the appointment of the Special Representative, Maria Angela Holguin Cuellar, solidifies her arrival in late January, the two leaders engaged in an informal and social meeting. The mood, however, will serve as a platform for all concerned parties to explore intentions—a necessary step for continuity.

As a result, nearly five months have elapsed since their last meeting in July (specifically, a joint visit to the Committee of Inquiry on Missing Persons - CMP). President Nikos Christodoulides reiterated his readiness for a social meeting with the Turkish Cypriot leader throughout the preceding period.

Handshake at Ledra Palace

President Christodoulides, accompanied by his wife, arrived at the buffer zone just after 7 pm, where he was welcomed by Mr. Colin Stewart. Shortly after, Mr. Tatar also arrived, leading to an exchange of handshakes and the customary photo (including the wives of the three leaders), without any official statements. The event saw the participation of the two negotiators (Menelaos Menelaou and Gouness Onar), members of the technical committees, the business communities, and the diplomatic community in Cyprus. This marks the first meeting of the two leaders since July 28, during the CMP workshop. Despite the informal and social nature of the meeting, it unfolded in a positive atmosphere with exploratory intentions from all parties, as per the information received.

Stuart's invitation

Mr. Stewart provided an overview of the UN mission to Cyprus, particularly focusing on the technical committees. With the acceptance of the appointment of the Special Envoy by both sides, he urged greater efforts on the Cyprus problem. In his concluding remarks, Stewart emphasized the need for collective action, saying, "Now more than ever is the time to get active." Looking ahead to 2024, he mentioned plans for a bi-communal renewable energy park in the buffer zone and stressed the importance of including more women and youth in the Cyprus process.

Readiness on behalf of Nicosia

After the meeting, President Christodoulides expressed Nicosia's readiness and determination to pursue the final objective through talks. He reiterated his hope for the resumption of negotiations and emphasized the common ground outlined in UN resolutions. Despite challenges and daily issues in the buffer zone, he affirmed their commitment to reunification and resolving the Cyprus problem within the agreed framework.

Difficult continuation

While the meeting may not have yielded significant news, its occurrence, even in a social context, holds significance. It took place immediately after the acceptance of Cuellar's appointment and in anticipation of her arrival in Cyprus.

Cyprus  |  Turkey  |  UN  |  diplomacy

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