By Jean Christou
AFTER ONLY a month on the job, the new UN special adviser has already fallen foul of the rejectionist parties when he was quoted at the weekend saying he would be coming to the island with “bridging” proposals.
Epsen Barth Eide met on Saturday with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu and in statements afterwards, said it was time to move forward. President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu had agreed that the negotiations would enter a new phase, he said.
“We’ll start doing that week after next. When I am back to Cyprus, I’ll come with some bridging proposals. We’ll go chapter after chapter and go into negotiations that already need to happen. I’ve been meeting with sides to talk about details of how we do that. But I am now quite optimistic that we are now moving into something different from what we have seen.” Eide said.
“That will be my personal priority. And that’s also the Secretary-General’s clear view. I want to go into the essence of the disagreements and I want to go into that fast and I’ll now focus on that.”
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon also referred to bridging the remaining differences, after a meeting with Eroglu in New York on Saturday.
“The Secretary-General… urged them to work without delay to bridge the remaining differences between their positions, building on the principles outlined in the Joint Declaration.” a UN statement said.
The Greens, socialist EDEK and the Citizens Alliance jumped on the ‘bridging proposals’ phrase on Monday, questioning its meaning and calling for explanations. “How do you bridge Turkey’s demand for dissolution of the Republic of Cyprus with the position of our side for continuation and evolution of the Republic?” said the latter.
But the government was quick to play down the development, saying that any bridging proposals, submitted by the UN would be non-binding and have no official standing.
Government Spokesman Nicos Christodoulides said such proposals would not in any way constitute a form of arbitration, a notion that was outside of the leaders’ joint statement.
“The UN… can orally make proposals to help the two parties, without these views being binding or having any official standing,” he said. “It is a form of sounding out the two sides,” he added.
Eide is expected in Cyprus at the beginning of next week.
Eroglu, during his meeting with Ban on Saturday also suggested the organisation of a three-party summit in Geneva with the two sides and the UN. He said the Turkish Cypriot side had asked Ban to become more involved in the negotiations.