August 4, 2017
I WAS truly saddened to watch your very brief press conference – which lasted only 3.5 minutes – which was televised at 3:15 am (Cyprus local time) on Friday, 7 July, announcing that you were deeply sorry that the conference on Cyprus at Crans-Montana in Switzerland had ended without an agreement being reached, wishing also “the best for all Cypriots north and south”. Reading your body language while making your announcement, I could not fail to note your frustration and disappointment with the failure to reach an agreement.
You only have recently been involved personally with the Cyprus question and already, and justifiably, feel frustrated and disappointed. Imagine how we Cypriots feel about the whole situation, with hopes being shattered one after another. Like most of my Cypriot compatriots, I was truly shocked and saddened to learn that the talks at Crans-Montana, which had provided the best opportunity to finally achieve the settlement we have been waiting for decades had failed.
As expected, the Blame Game started immediately thereafter, with each side accusing the other for the failure to reach an agreement at Crans-Montana. Unfortunately, the Blame Game has not spared your Special Adviser Espen Barth Eide either, who has been accused, among others, of failure to be impartial. Having served with the United Nations for 40 years, including, among others, as the Personal Representative of the Secretary-General for Afghanistan and Pakistan, I know it too well how often Member States turn United Nations officials into scapegoats for their own failures.
We are bombarded daily with different, as well as self-serving versions of what took place or went wrong at Crans-Montana. The average Cypriot is totally confused and does not know who to trust anymore and is suspicious of statements and press reports, irrespective whether they are true or not.
Accordingly, I should like to appeal to you to come up with an objective and a factual report on the conference held at Crans-Montana, stating clearly and openly, without diplomatic niceties, what in fact took place at the Conference, as well as the reasons for the failure to achieve a settlement. The people of Cyprus deserve to have such a report in order to understand exactly what happened at Crans-Montana, and will indeed be most grateful to you for such a report.
I welcome the fact that you left the door open for the resumption of the talks. The continuation of the current status quo is not a solution and has the potential of unforeseen and disastrous consequences. True, the United Nations role in Cyprus is that of a facilitator and not a negotiator on behalf of the sides. However, that should not prevent the United Nations in actively encouraging the sides to resume negotiations as urgently as possible in order to finalize a solution in the interest of all Cypriots, irrespective of their ethnic and religious backgrounds. We have far more in common than differences and we should build peace and security in the interest of all concerned. We should also encourage and involve the civil society members and organizations in the peace process, including such grassroots movements as the UniteCyprusNow, a grassroots independent initiative of Cypriots from all communities promoting actions in support of peace and reunification of the island through a negotiated settlement of the Cyprus problem.
Benon V. Sevan
United Nations Under-Secretary-General (Ret)