President Nicos Anastasiades launched a fiery assault against UN special adviser Espen Barth Eide, accusing him of lying about the failure of the talks in Switzerland earlier this month, and announcing the publication of the minutes “to reveal who is telling the truth.”
“It is sad, really sad, people who supposedly express international law, as the UNSG special adviser, to lie in public in a bid to cover Ankara’s intransigence,” Anastasides said during a speech at an event organized by Kyrenia refugees to mark the anniversary of the Turkish invasion.
Eide said he attributed what happened to a “collective failure” and said that a deal could have been reached that all parties could have lived with.
“What they don’t know is that their minutes and ours … will be made public to reveal who is telling the truth,” Anastasiades said.
The special adviser met with Anastasiades in Nicosia earlier in the day.
Government spokesman Nicos Christodoulides said the president had called Eide out on his comments.
“The President of the Republic has made a strict demarche to Mr Eide for what he has said publicly about the reasons for the negative result in Crans-Montana,” the spokesman said.
And, if there are continued reports “that do not correspond to reality there will be no other choice but to put on the public record what happened in Crans-Montana” the spokesman said.
He said this was not a threat. “It is a matter for the people of Cyprus to know exactly… and when I say the Cypriot people, I mean both Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots… what exactly happened in Crans-Montana.”
The Greek Cypriot side says the talks failed due to Turkey’s refusal to give up guarantees and the right of intervention.
On comments by Eide that the deal could have included Turkey giving up its guarantee and right of intervention, Christodoulides said: “Woe betide any Cypriot politician who could have ended the Treaty of Guarantee and the intervention rights of Turkey and who would not accept such a settlement. I do not think anyone believes there could be any greater success if a Cypriot politician had such an outcome.”
Christodoulides said during the dinner in Crans-Montana, after Guterres raised his private conversation with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu suggesting that guarantees and intervention could be abolished from the first day, “there were many at dinner who listened to Mr Cavusoglu’s reaction that this could not be implemented from day one,” the spokesman said.
“Through the very specific and multiple questions he has posed Eide for every meeting which took place in Switzerland and the replies he has received, what we have said from the first day onward is confirmed. That is to say that the reason talks in Crans-Montana failed was Turkey’s persistence over guarantee rights, over its right of intervention in Cyprus and over a permanent presence of the Turkish army to continue,” he added.
Anastasiades had said that there had been a miscommunication between Guterres and Cavusoglu but Eide said in the interview on Saturday that the UN chief had not misunderstood.
Christodoulides said for things to move forward Turkey would have to accept the transformation of the Republic of Cyprus into what the secretary-general called a normal state “without occupation troops and without guarantees from any third country.”
At the moment, however, he added, “there is nothing”.
Asked whether Eide should step down, the spokesman said: “We expect to see some very specific developments in the next few days and will accordingly take a specific position,” he added.
In addition to Eide’s report to the Security Council on Crans-Montana, Unficyp’s mandate renewal comes up on Thursday.
Eide said after the meeting that the UN was still committed to supporting the talks.
He said that it was a very complex situation, adding that a lot of things were achieved in Crans-Montana “but we were unable able to stitch it together to a final deal”.
“That was a blow I think to everybody involved, and the question is what we can do now.”
Eide said that since Crans-Montana, he had briefed the UN Security Council and had “deep discussions” with Guterres about the way ahead.
“And now I am here partly to share some of my impressions with the leaders from the New York meetings but more importantly to listen to them and to hear from Mr Anastasiades and Mr Akinci where they think we stand, where the process is and frankly what they would like us to do,” he said.
Eide said he had a very open and very constructive conversation with Anastasiades.
Pressed again on what exactly went down with Turkey and the guarantees at the Swiss talks, Eide said: “Turkey has been clear all the time that they cannot accept both zero guarantees and zero troops, that was their line throughout the conference. A lot of things happened during the conference. We were working towards an outcome on security – I mean the UNSG and myself – that we think could have worked at the end of the day as part of a final package. That would then lead to the end of guarantees and intervention rights, but it would keep some troops at least for some time, and where we were not ready to agree was on the issue of the longevity of those troops.”
He repeated what he had said in a controversial interview with CNA published on Saturday that many of the conversations were confidential “and hence it is difficult to say much more than I already said”.
He added that his main focus now was “where we go from here”.
“If we were able to arrive at a total package as the SG and I had hoped, some of these issues would have been cleared. But there were some outstanding issues. These discussions were deeply confidential. The parties had their official positions which were proposed and they also shared all the ideas with us confidentially and we have to keep them confidential,” he said.
Asked again why Guterres had called a halt to the conference if a breakthrough was that close, Eide said the UN’s doors would never be closed as long as the sides wanted them to continue to facilitate but this would require all involved parties to agree under what basis to negotiate.
He said some ideas had been developed based on six main questions, two on security and guarantees and four on internal issues.
“It remains my conviction that if we had been able to solve all six of them in one go we would have at this time have the strategic breakthrough. I am not giving up, the UN is not giving up, but at the same time I do not want to create any false illusions. I want to be honest about the fact that all of us recognise that the situation after Crans-Montana is difficult and I simply do not want to make too many observations on my own, before I have heard both leaders and what they have to say,” he said.
But there was as of now no concrete ideas, and it was not up to the UN to decide given that the process must remain leader-led. “We facilitate and they negotiate.” To continue, the UN needed a shared desire from the two sides.
Asked about his personal position as envoy, Eide said it was known for some time that he would be participating in elections in his native Norway and would be leaving in any case.
“What I am doing now is to try to see what is the best advice I can give him [Guterres] after Crans-Montana, after seeing the two leaders, I am his special adviser, and we want to know if there is a process, on what terms this process can take place,” he said.
Eide met with Akinci in the afternoon.
Following the meeting, he said he briefed the UN Security Council on all the developments from the Geneva meeting onwards, including the impasse on the island for a few months.
“One of my points there was that while we were inching closer on substance, we also saw a gradual deterioration of trust,” he said. “I am not only speaking of trust at the highest level but also the kind of an inter-communal trust; The people seemed to be less prepared rather than more prepared.”
“I think in hindsight one of the things we need to reflect about is whether the communities were sufficiently engaged in the process, whether the communities were sufficiently informed and motivated for this. I don’t know, but that I think is for historians to discuss,” he pointed out.