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25 June, 2024
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UN envoy sparks EU-Turkey clash with crucial 20-day mission

Cuellar's visit to Berlin, Paris, and Brussels shakes diplomatic landscape

Yiannis Ioannou

Yiannis Ioannou

The upcoming 20-day stretch, commencing this Thursday, holds immense significance in the ongoing efforts to break the deadlock in Cyprus. It marks the anticipated arrival of Maria-Angela Holguín-Cuellar, the UN Secretary-General's personal envoy, on May 7th for her much-anticipated "third descent" to the island.

Before her arrival in Cyprus, however, she embarks on a strategic mini-tour, touching down in Berlin (25.04), Paris (26.04), and Brussels (29.04). This prelude holds particular weight given the recent conclusions on EU-Turkey relations by the European Council and the pivotal roles these European capitals play in the EU-Turkey axis. The spotlight remains firmly on Ankara's stance, as well as that of Turkish President Erdogan, regarding the Cyprus issue, given the unwavering position they both maintain.

Central to this diplomatic dance is Turkey. Informed sources reveal that Berlin is pivotal in the current shuttle diplomacy led by Ms. Holguín, aimed at coaxing Ankara towards a more flexible approach away from rigid red lines on sovereign equality and a two-state solution. Despite references to Cyprus and EU-Turkey relations in the recent European Council conclusions, Nicosia appears to have fallen short in achieving its diplomatic objectives. Against this backdrop, Berlin, Paris, and Brussels can inject much-needed diplomatic momentum, which the UN Secretary-General's personal envoy can leverage while sending subtle signals of political pressure to Ankara. Consequently, Turkey's stance during Ms. Holguín's upcoming 20-day period is deemed "key" for future developments, according to sources abreast of the situation.

Subsequently, Ms. Holguín's week-long sojourn in Cyprus, from May 7th to 14th, assumes heightened importance. Her strategy and goals will crystallize in the aftermath of her consultations in Berlin, Paris, and Brussels. Of particular significance is the pursuit of a joint meeting with the two leaders—a goal that eluded her during her previous visit to Cyprus. The timing of Ms. Holguín's visit, coinciding with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis' trip to Ankara on May 13th, holds both symbolic and substantive weight. Seasoned observers in the Cyprus conundrum suggest that a successful Mitsotakis visit to Turkey could, among other things, positively influence efforts to resolve the deadlock in Cyprus and shape Erdogan's subsequent actions.

Finally, sources intimate that Ms. Holguín's third visit to Cyprus is unlikely to be her last, barring unforeseen circumstances. Despite pressure from Tatar and Ankara for a six-month timeline in her mandate, the UN Secretary-General's personal envoy may find her mission extended until year's end.

[This article was translated from its Greek original]

Cyprus  |  EU  |  Turkey

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