Cyprus Mail
Cyprus Cyprus Talks

UN urges sides to seize unique opportunity (updated)

By George Psyllides

The UN on Tuesday urged the island’s divided communities to seize the unique opportunity presented to them to reunify the island, as both leaders voiced readiness to resume negotiations without delay.

Speaking after a meeting with President Nicos Anastasiades, UN Special Adviser Espen Barth Eide said there were no time limits to the talks because “we have two leaders who actually want this to work and they both tell me that there is no time to waste so I don’t feel that I need to push them to subscribe to particular dates or deadlines.

“But I do think that the sense which is created on both sides of Cyprus now is that this opportunity is unique,” the UN official said, adding that it was perhaps decades since the island saw this kind of positive climate. “And I think that everybody knows that that is an opportunity that has to be utilised when it is there.”

Eide’s talks with Anastasiades followed a meeting with newly elected Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci on Monday.

“These are two leaders who tell me that they are seriously dedicated and committed to solving the Cyprus problem, that they are ready to resume negotiations without delay,” Eide said. “I am very encouraged by the climate that has been created over the last weeks and months here and I think this is an opportunity that Cypriots must take.”

Negotiations were suspended in October last year after Anastasiades pulled out when Turkey issued a maritime notice, or NAVTEX, for exploration inside the island’s exclusive economic zone until December 30. It subsequently dispatched a research vessel, Barbaros, to carry out seismic surveys.

A second NAVTEX was issued from January 6 until April 6 but the Barbaros did not move from Famagusta port during those three months. The NAVTEX was not renewed and Barbaros has since left the area, paving the way for talks to resume.

A date has not yet been set for the resumption of talks, though government spokesman Nicos Christodoulides said the two sides’ aim was to start this month.

Speaking after the meeting, he said the date has not been finalised yet but it could be announced on Monday after a dinner between the two leaders.

Eide said the two leaders would decide “when – not if – but when negotiations will formally start and I think that we are talking about relatively soon, and from then on I think we are into a very important moment of Cyprus history.”

The UN official stressed that this was a Cypriot-owned process that should be led by the leaders.

“I, as the Special Adviser of the Secretary General and my UN team is here to help, facilitate and support, but it’s not our process, it is a process that is owned and led by the leaders,” he said.

Eide also said he was working closely with the EU as in the future a united Cyprus would be a full member and it had to be compatible with European standards and principles.

In the coming days, Anastasiades will have a telephone communication with US Vice President Joe Biden, and on May 9 he will have a meeting with the UN Secretary General in Moscow.

Greek Foreign Minister Nicos Kotzias said there cannot not be a solution if the sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of Cyprus were not restored under the guarantee of the international community and the EU.

There cannot be such a solution “if the last boot reminding that Turkish soldiers were on the island does not leave.”

The Greek diplomat stressed that the demand for the withdrawal of the Turkish army defended the common interests of Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots.

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