UN envoy Espen Barth Eide said on Wednesday he had “great expectations” from the talks next week in Mont Pelerin Switzerland but warned it would not be the end of the road to a comprehensive solution.
Speaking after a meeting with President Nicos Anastasiades, Eide said the Swiss talks would be a very important moment in the negotiations. He said he had discussed with the president – and was going to meet Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci – the optimal way of orchestrating the issues they want to deal with in Switzerland in order to make the best of the opportunity.
“I have great expectations for the Mont Pelerin meeting but I also want to underline that it must in no way be understood that this is the end of the road,” said Eide.
“This is a step and if the meetings in Mont Pelerin are successful we might agree that this means we can then move into the final stage. It is not supposed to be the end and we are not planning this as the final meeting, there will be more issues to deal with.”
The leaders have gaps in all chapters and though the main issue in Switzerland will be territory, they hope to bridge other differences. Some fear Anastasiades will be bamboozled into talks on guarantees and security when these are to be decided only when everything else is agreed.
Also, reports have been rife that Turkey might compromise on the guarantees in return for concessions from the Greek Cypriot side on territory such as the return of Morphou, a red line for Anastasiades.
Eide said both sides were ready to open chapters that had not been on the table yet, territory in particular.
“And territory obviously has to be discussed in the natural context with the other chapters that pertain to territory and other outstanding issues,” he said, citing property as an example.
He said the five full days would allow for formal negotiations, informal meetings and parallel meetings where different people discuss different parts of the agenda. This, Eide said would be more productive than four hours in the buffer zone when both leaders have a lot of other things to attend to.
The UN envoy ruled out the notion of ‘give and take’ in its formal sense in Switzerland but said: “We are seeing how all these talks are interdependent and issues are related and the only meaningful way of solving the Cyprus problem is to see that things are related.”
Eide said it was not always possible to “just isolate” a chapter. For example, he said the economy chapter was largely done but this contained governance issues “so you cannot pretend that this topic can be discussed with without any reference to governance”.
“And in the same way we need now to have a solid focus on territory but in the natural context and the two sides may emphasise different contexts which is fine so we then reconcile them,” he added.
“What is absolutely certain is that regardless of Mont Pelerin we will come back to Cyprus and continue. But the more successful they are the sooner can we go into the very final issues and I think everybody knows what they are.”
Asked why he said both sides had never been closer to a deal when an actual plan was put to referendum in 2004, Eide said the difference was that the Annan plan had been written by his predecessor Alvaro de Soto’s team whereas the current agreement was being written by the Cypriot leaders themselves.