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15 July, 2024
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UN envoy's dual approach ahead of crucial briefing

Maria Angela Holguin Cuellar balances interests of both sides as she prepares to update security council


Maria Angela Holguin Cuellar is adopting a nuanced strategy in the Cyprus conflict as she seeks to engage with Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan and prepares to brief the UN Security Council on her recent mission to Cyprus, according to an article written by Pavlos Xanthoulis.  The report she has prepared for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is expected to be pivotal.

A foreign diplomatic source revealed that Holguin's recent open letter to Cypriots aims to maintain momentum in resolving the Cyprus issue, aligning with Nicosia's desires to keep the process alive. However, the source also noted that Holguin's avoidance of a specific settlement framework and her call to move away from past solutions broadens the scope of potential future agreements, catering to Turkey's demands for recognizing the sovereign equality of the occupied administration.

According to the same source, Holguin's letter acts as a dual appeal, offering incentives to both sides just before her Security Council briefing. This tactic is seen as significant and deliberate.

Holguin's letter also provides hope to the Greek Cypriots by suggesting a continued effort toward resuming talks, stating her commitment to finding viable alternatives and mentioning the Secretary-General's forthcoming measures. Simultaneously, her ambiguous language gives the Turkish side room to push for their preferred solution of two separate entities, without explicitly rejecting this notion.

This approach mirrors the tactics of Antonio Guterres, who has historically avoided specifying a basis for a Cyprus solution in his reports, causing frustration in Nicosia while giving Turkey the impression of leniency. Guterres has previously indicated a willingness to consider both the Turkish position of two states and the Greek Cypriot vision of a bizonal, bicommunal federation.

In other words, the UN leadership aims to sustain the possibility of resuming a settlement process for Cyprus without committing to a specific solution framework. This flexibility accommodates deviations from the UN Security Council's mandate and the agreed framework of a bizonal, bicommunal federation.

Consequently, a source at the European Union headquarters noted that various parties have suggested to Turkey that it would be easier to reach a comprehensive settlement using the existing process. Tools exist to address the concerns of both Turkish and Greek Cypriots. The source expressed skepticism about reversing the process or securing new terms from the Security Council, emphasizing the existing framework's potential for flexibility.

The future direction of the Cyprus issue will hinge on the decisions made by the UN Secretary-General following Holguin's report and the Security Council briefing. These decisions, whether focused on process or methodology, are expected to significantly impact the substance of the Cyprus problem.

As of Tuesday, it remained unclear whether Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan would meet on the sidelines of the NATO Summit. Panos Amyras, director of press and information at the prime minister's office, did not rule out the possibility of such a meeting. Mitsotakis is scheduled to meet with Antonio Guterres, with the Cyprus issue high on the agenda.

[This article is an excerpt of an article written by Pavlos Xanthoulis in Greek and published in Kathimerini.  Read the full article here]

Cyprus  |  Turkey  |  Greece

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