The working group which began three days of meeting in Mont Pelerin in Switzerland to discuss security and guarantees finished on Thursday, a day early, having completed its task, the UN said.
Shortly before 7pm, the UN released a statement reading: “The Conference on Cyprus held its second session in Mont Pelerin, Switzerland on 18-19 January at the level of deputies and experts. The working group, established during the high-level meeting in Geneva on 12 January, successfully completed the mandate entrusted to it by the Conference, namely identifying specific questions related to the issue of security and guarantees and the instruments needed to address them.
“The meetings were conducted in a positive spirit. The participants agreed not to disclose details about their discussions, as the proceedings of the conference have not yet concluded.”
The deliberations at Mont Pelerin were initially scheduled to wrap up on Friday.
It was not immediately clear whether the continuation of the Conference on Cyprus – an open-ended process that launched in Geneva last week – would be at a technical or political level.
Sources close to the talks said the experts from the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot teams would be returning from Mont Pelerin to brief their respective political leaderships.
It’s understood that the so-called technical talks at the Swiss resort this week did not feature any give-and-take, with the parties merely recording their respective views on aspects of internal and external security, and implementation.
This, taken in conjunction with the UN’s statement that the working group successfully completed its mandate, would indicate that the technical talks are over – at this stage at least.
The Conference on Cyprus, a summit convening on January 12 in Geneva under UN auspices, decided to establish a working group at the level of deputies with the task to identify specific questions and the instruments needed to address them.
Moreover, it decided that the Conference would continue on political level “immediately thereafter” to review the outcome of the working group’s discussions and that in parallel, the negotiations on outstanding issues in the other chapters would continue between the two sides in Cyprus.
Government spokesman Nicos Christodoulides has repeatedly stated that whenever the Conference should resume at a political level, it will do so featuring heads of state.
Earlier in the day, CNA reported that none of the parties participating in the working group at Mont Pelerin had laid their cards on the table.
The news agency’s sources added “it is obvious that it will become evident only at the highest level whether the security issue can be effectively addressed.”
A Greek Cypriot source said that nothing new came up from the discussions so far.
A UN source told CNA that the UN Secretary General’s Special Adviser Espen Barth Eide attended Thursday’s deliberations of the working group at Mont-Pelerin.
The same source said Eide would be flying from Switzerland to New York, where on January 23 he would inform the UN Security Council on developments in Cyprus.
The news agency’s source said also that no new meeting had been arranged yet between President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci.
But Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency reported that Anastasiades and Akinci were next set to meet again on January 26.
Amid the ongoing process, Ankara reiterated on Thursday it will not accept an outright scrapping of Turkish guarantees over the island.
Speaking in the Turkish parliament, the country’s prime minister Binali Yildirim said “there was no question of discussing effective guarantees and security…”
He added: “There should be fair governance, ensuring the rights of the communities and safeguarding the four basic freedoms.
“We are talking about a united Cyprus. Once this agreement is secured, Turkey should be treated as if it is a member of the EU.”
Back in Cyprus, addressing a memorial event in honour of Archbishop Makarios, Anastasiades stressed that he is committed to seeing through the peace process to a settlement.
“History will judge just as disastrous an opportunity wasted…out of timidity. That would be the worst possible service that one could render unto our country.”
He was responding to earlier remarks at the same event by Archbishop Chrysostomos, who moments earlier had urged the president “not to be overly concerned about a non-solution, as a bad solution would be worse.”
The current status quo, Anastasiades added, is unacceptable as it “constitutes a constant source of disruption of the demographic balance and security on our island.”