A deal to end the island’s partition is closer than ever and could be clinched by the end of this year, UN envoy Espen Barth Eide has said.
“We are way ahead of what has ever happened before,” said Eide. “No negotiations on Cyprus have come close to the level we are at now.”
Eide and Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides on Tuesday night discussed developments in the talks, particularly the challenges that lie ahead.
After the Economist conference, in Nicosia, they were joined by the leaders of three parliamentary parties; Disy, Akel and Diko to discuss the Cyprus issue.
In his speech, Kasoulides said the Treaty of Guarantee, which gave Turkey the pretext to invade in 1974, must be considered obsolete.
“We have learnt in the EU to respect the principle of proportionality, but armies react disproportionately,” Kasoulides said. “Don’t give armies the right to resolve problems, they create bigger ones,” he added.
“If we accept either the presence of foreign troops, or that one party in the federation has the right to ask a third country to intervene, then we are not talking about an independent and sovereign country.”
Kasoulides said that the island had a very big potential to use its geographic location and contribute to stability in the region, provided that it was totally independent.
Responding to a question regarding the use of revenue from natural gas in implementing a settlement, Kasoulides said revenue from natural gas exploitation was not expected before 2020 but he said the prospect of the income was the collateral Cyprus needed in order to withstand economic difficulties in the first year after a settlement.
Eide said no round of negotiations had ever been even close to a deal.
He referred to the trade potential following reunification and also spoke about the potential to turn Cyprus into a significant energy hub in the Eastern Mediterranean.
The UN envoy said the very fact that both leaders had agreed to go to Mont Pelerin in Switzerland next week was a strong signal of progress. However, Eide said that this would not be the end of the road, as there were outstanding issues.
He referred to the “nervousness of the last mile” as those involved in negotiations realise that a solution can happen and needs to make accommodations, never been made before.
“Leadership in the end of the day is a lonely exercise,” said Eide.
Cyprus as part of Europe was coming together again, if the leadership by both sides continues, he concluded.
“We are near the finishing line, after decades we are probably closer than ever before,” said Disy chief Averof Neophytou.
Akel leader Andros Kyprianou noted that the chapters on property, territory and security were those that could either lead to failure or become catalysts for a solution.
No one could expect both sides to reach an agreement if there were no significant territorial adjustments. The security of one community could not come at the expense of the other community, he said.
Diko chief, Nicolas Papadopoulos said that there was no progress in the chapters of security, the withdrawal of the Turkish occupation troops, the abolition of the guarantees and the return of territory. This was because these were the issues in which Turkey needs to concede something, and Turkey so far has refused to negotiate them, he said.
What was being suggested was that the Republic would be dissolved and a new Turkish protectorate would replace it, he added. He warned that this dysfunctional structure would collapse, and Cypriots would become like the Palestinians. The overwhelming majority of Greek Cypriots will never accept this, he said.