By Apostolis Zoupaniotis
US President Donald Trump has sent two identical letters to the Chairpersons of the Foreign Affairs Committees of the House of Representatives and the Senate, informing the Congress on progress towards a negotiated solution of the Cyprus question for the periods August-September and October-November in 2018.
The US President is bound by law to submit reports on Cyprus every two months.
The August-September report refers to the meeting European and Eurasian Affairs (EUR) Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary (DAS) Yuri Kim had on August 1 with John Harkrider of One Cyprus Now and Jeff Munk of Baker Botts law firm, who are leading a business coalition to show the economic benefits of a united Cyprus in order to encourage the reunification of the island.
It says that on September 10, UN Senior Official Jane Holl Lute met with Greek Foreign Minister Nicos Kotzias in Athens. Reporting indicated that Kotzias told Lute that the Treaties of Alliance and Guarantees should be abolished. UK Minister of State for Europe and the Americas Sir Alan Duncan described his meeting with Lute on September 12 as productive. On September 13, Lute met with EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Commission Vice President Federica Mogherini.
On September 14, US Department of State DAS Matthew Palmer met with Republic of Cyprus (ROC) Ambassador Marios Lysiotis to express US support for a UN-facilitated, Cypriot-led settlement process to reunify the island as a bizonal, bicommunal federation, and disappointment that the two sides were not able to return to the negotiating table over the summer. He encouraged Lysiotis to take advantage of the opportunities for the sides to constructively engage Lute.
On the margins of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) on September 20, EUR Assistant Secretary (A/S) Wess Mitchell met with Democratic Rally Party (DISY) President Averof Neofytou. Mitchell reiterated US support for a settlement in Cyprus based on a bizonal, bicommunal federation. Neofytou expressed his desire for progress in the political arena.
Also, on the margins of UNGA, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan discussed the Cyprus problem during an hour-long meeting. Additionally, UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, Kotzias, and Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu held an unprecedented, informal meeting of the guarantor powers to discuss the issues of guarantees and security. ROC President Anastasiades met one-on-one with Cavusoglu in a private meeting that was later confirmed by the ROC.
A/S Mitchell met with ROC Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides on September 25 and again reiterated U.S. support for Cypriot leader-led, UN-facilitated negotiations process leading to a bizonal, bicommunal federation.
Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci met Mogherini in New York on September 26. On September 28, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres met separately with Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Akinci to exchange views on the Cyprus issue.
The report concludes by saying that on September 29, Anastasiades addressed UNGA. On settlement, he said that a viable and lasting settlement in Cyprus is important, not only for the people of Cyprus: Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, but it would also provide a much-needed environment of stability and peace in the region. He reiterated his commitment to a solution based on the relevant United Nations resolutions and called on Turkey to demonstrate the political determination to reach a settlement.
The October-November report says that on October 8, 2018, Republic of Cyprus (ROC) President Nicos Anastasiades suggested to the National Council the idea of a "loose" or a "decentralized federation" as an option for solving the Cyprus Problem.
In his October 15, 2018, report on his Good Offices in Cyprus, UN Secretary-General Guterres assessed that the prospect of a comprehensive settlement "remain alive" and that a lasting agreement should be achieved within a clear horizon. Guterres requested UN Senior Official Jane Holl Lute continue her consultations with all stakeholders and develop terms of reference that would constitute a "consensus starting point" for the resumption of talks.
UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs DiCarlo later briefed the Security Council on the Secretary-General`s report on October 30.
On October 23, 2018, Turkish Foreign Minister (FM) Mevlut Cavusoglu said Turkey is open to alternative solutions to the Cyprus Problem but stressed that prior to a new round of talks, a decision must be made on whether the model for a solution would be a federation, confederation, two states, or another system.
On October 26, 2018, the leaders of the Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot communities met under the auspices of dual-hatted UN Special Representative and Deputy Special Advisor to the Secretary-General on Cyprus Elizabeth Spehar. Following the meeting, the two leaders announced that crossing points at Apliki/Aplic and Dherynia/Derinya would open on November 12, 2018. The opening of the crossing points was one of the confidence-building measures the leaders had previously agreed to in 2015.
On October 31, 2018, Lute held separate meetings with the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot leaders to advance the UN Secretary-General`s call for the sides to agree on the terms of reference for the resumption of talks.
On November 6, 2018, Secretary of State Pompeo met with ROC FM Nikos Christodoulides at the State Department. At the meeting, the Secretary reaffirmed the United States` continued support for a Cypriot-led, UN-facilitated effort to reunify the island as a bizonal, bicommunal federation. The Secretary encouraged further efforts by both sides to improve bicommunal relations, reinvigorate the political process, and closely engage with Lute and the UN Good Offices.
The report adds that on the same day, then-Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs A. Wess Mitchell met with FM Christodoulides to sign a bilateral Statement of Intent to deepen security cooperation between the ROC and the United States. At the meeting, Mitchell reiterated US support for a bizonal, bicommunal federal solution to the Cyprus Problem.
On November 12, 2018, the two crossing points at Apliki/Aplic and Dherynia/Derinya were opened in line with the October 26 joint announcement of Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci.
The report concludes by noting that on November 16, 2018, Assistant Secretary for Energy Resources Francis Fannon met with the ROC Minister of Energy, Commerce, Industry and Tourism Yiorgos Lakkotrypis in Nicosia. Fannon encouraged Lakkotrypis to develop a mechanism to allow potential offshore natural gas development to be a catalyst for a settlement agreement and reiterated U.S. support for Cypriot leader-led, UN-facilitated efforts to reunify Cyprus as a bizonal, bicommunal federation.