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Eide optimistic about peace process

Photo archive: UN Special Adviser Espen Barth Eide arriving at the Presidential Palace (CNA)

By Apostolis Zoupaniotis in New York

Concrete progress has been achieved in the talks, the UN Secretary General’s Special Adviser for Cyprus Espen Barth Eide said after briefing the organisation’s Security Council on Wednesday, but a lot of hard work remains to be done.

The positive briefing was a welcome change for the members of the UNSC.

Gerard van Bohemen, UNSC President and Permanent Representative of New Zealand, said that “we had kind of the unusual experience of getting a very positive briefing which we all took great pleasure from. Ms. Buttenheim and Mr. Eide were very upbeat about the mood on the island and the talks but I recognize that there are significant challenges ahead”.

“There was a recognition that the two leaders of the different communities are committed to making this process work and the Council was very united and behind the special adviser and the special representative and wants to give every encouragement that we can until the talks continuing,” he added.

In statements after briefing the UNSC together with UN Special Representative in Cyprus Lisa Buttenheim, Eide said that the fifteen members of the Council recognized the effort of the two leaders who think about “the big picture and the essence of what is necessary in order to reach a solution in Cyprus rather than the old fashion insistence on minor and minuscule detail”.

“So the new tone is recognized in New York and is warmly welcomed”, he said, adding that he underlined in the briefing that “while there is a very good climate where we can report on concrete progress there is also a lot of work yet to be done.”

Pointing out that very hard work and concessions are ahead of the two leaders, he said that the UN Security Council members think there is no time to lose and this momentum has to be upheld.
Asked if there is a timetable, he said that there is not any timetable, noting that “if you have a timetable it may be suffocating.”

But he recalled that the two leaders have repeatedly said that there was no time to lose.

Eide said that since May 11, there have been 25 meetings between the two sides’ negotiators and six formal meetings between the leaders, plus numerous social events and an even higher number of meetings of different kinds of working groups.

“So this is working with full speed because everybody involved knows that this momentum has to be grasped now. It is now and it is not forever,” he said.

“What we are doing now,” he added, “is to try to come as far as we can towards a strategic understanding of all the difficult issues. When we are approaching the later stage I will also engage even more deeply on the international dimensions of the settlement which includes discussion with the guarantor powers. This is already in preparation and then at the right moment we will also make sure that those issues become part of what can be seen as a final solution.”

“After that if this works, referenda and after the referenda implementation. And I encourage everybody to think about these three phases, not because I can promise that we’ll get to number two but if we get there, we have to have thought about it and to get to implementation and we have to think about it as well. And implementation also means change and that change has to be organized in a proper way and under clear authority and under clear constitutional control,” Eide said.

Asked about the hydrocarbons issue, Eide said that “the reality is that this was solved many years ago in the sense that post settlement were existing convergences which have been reconfirmed long before this new phase, that Hydrocarbons belongs to the future federal united Cyprus”.

“So empirically there is not that much activity going on right now, it is actually not an issue, it is simply not an issue that is being discussed not because we don’t want to discuss it but it is basically already solved in the light of a future settlement. And since we are now working in the direction of what I hope, not know, but hope, will be a full-fledged settlement for a united federal Cyprus, the leaders will build on the pre-existing convergences on this issue,” he said. (CNA)


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