Cyprus Mail
OpinionOur View

Stating the obvious, Eide upsets laid-back talks

The UN Secretary-General’s new Special Advisor to Cyprus Espen is in favour of a solution!

“I AM for a settlement,” the UN Secretary-General’s new Special Advisor to Cyprus Espen Barth Eide said in a recent interview. By way of explanation, he said: “I am not impartial to a settlement or non-settlement, I am for a settlement.”

One columnist, impressed with Eide’s statement of the obvious, asked the obvious question. “Was it ever possible for the special advisor of the Secretary-General of the UN for the Cyprus problem not to have been in favour of a settlement?” asked Alecos Constantinides in last Monday’s Alithia and added, “all 24 envoys and special advisors of the UN SG, all Eide’s predecessors were in favour of a settlement.”

Eide’s statement of the obvious may have been necessary given that our politicians view the peace talks as a never-ending process. He may have heard some of the statements being made about the need for a deal “as soon as possible, but without suffocating timeframes and arbitration,” which give a good illustration of the prevailing approach to the talks. We want a solution the soonest, but are opposed to any arrangements that would help achieve this.

Opposition parties were not happy to read Eide’s weekend comments about his plan to come to the island with “some bridging proposals” and his intention to “go into the essence of the disagreements” and “go into that fast.” The parties immediately sought explanations demanding to know what Eide meant, as they felt the differences could not be bridged, given Turkey’s stance.

In other words, they do not want Eide to make bridging proposals because this might threaten the never-ending nature of the talks; they would have been more comfortable if Eide was not in favour of a settlement. The Anastasiades government also appears to share this view, its spokesman pointing out that UN bridging proposals could be made orally “without these views being binding or having any official standing”.

The government’s message to the concerned opposition parties was very clear – Eide would make his proposals just for fun, to keep the two sides entertained, as neither is obliged to accept them. There was no danger of differences being bridged even though we would all be less worried if Eide was not so openly in favour of a settlement. We would prefer a Special Advisor who would be as happy with a non-settlement as he would be with a settlement and does not try to remove us from our comfort zone with bridging proposals, even if they are not binding.

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