UN Special Advisor Espen Barth Eide will be back on Monday for meetings with President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci to establish whether they remained committed to a solution based on a bizonal, bicommunal federation (BBF).
An interview given by Eide to the Cyprus News Agency, was not well received by the Greek Cypriot side as he repeated his view that the talks collapsed because of a “collective failure.” The Cyprus government’s position was that the Turkish side was 100 per cent to blame for the collapse.
He also hit back at criticism, made in the wake of Crans-Montana, that he had been unprepared. The UN, he said were very well prepared, and if anyone was unprepared, maybe it was the people who were in charge and not those that were helping them.
He said things at the July 6 working dinner – that led to the collapse of the talks – were moving towards a situation of no guarantees. Eide also rejected claims made by the Greek Cypriot side that the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres had misunderstood the content of a private conversation with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu in Crans-Montana about Ankara’s willingness to ditch the guarantees system from the first day of a settlement.
According to Anastasiades, when Cavusoglu was asked at the final dinner if he had made such an offer and if so to put it in writing, he refused and denied he had made it. Eide said that the SG had not misunderstood anything. The ensuing blame game, he said, was very unhealthy and “turns complicated issues into banalities”.
In another interview, published on Sunday in Politis, Eide said it was now up to the two sides to decide whether they wanted to proceed based on the February 11, 2014 Joint Declaration that stipulated a solution based on BBF, or would like a different approach.
He was not sure now that both sides remained committed to a BBF, but would find out next week. Following the end of the talks, Turkey said that it was clear finding a solution within the UN framework was not possible and other options would be explored.
Eide told Politis that if Cypriots decided to overcome their small differences, they would have huge support from the international community.
The government, obviously annoyed by the Norwegian’s account of events, urged Eide, through spokesman, Nicos Christodoulides, to reflect on his role in the negotiation process that led to an inconclusive outcome at the Conference on Cyprus.
According to state broadcaster CyBC, Athens, on Friday, asked the UN to put Eide in his place for the ‘false statements’ he had been making about who bore responsibility for the deadlock of the talks in Crans-Montana. The memo sent to the UN, reportedly cited Eide’s “biased support for Turkey”.
Meanwhile, the Greek Foreign Ministry, on Sunday urged Eide to make clear whether Cavusoglu finally agreed during the July 6 dinner to the abolition of the intervention rights and of the Treaty of Guarantees from the first day of the solution, as per his statements in a recent interview. “Because we have the conviction that the Turkish foreign minister stated the opposite both during the Conference and publicly. Unless Mr. Eide was in a different Conference or he wanted to understand things differently,” the ministry said in a statement.
Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias accused Eide of lying. In an interview published yesterday in Phileleftheros, Kotzias said that the fault of the Greek side was that it allowed Eide to lead it to that phase of the talks, for which the UN official was not prepared. He said the Greek side “have allowed him to lie for too long,” and added:
“I pointed out to him (his lies) during the Conference. He knew he was lying but he didn’t mind that he was being caught in the act. Luckily, he was forced to give up when he tried to present his own positions as our own in a document. I’m afraid he is continuing these tactics post- Switzerland.” Kotzias said.
Kotzias felt the breaking point between the UNSG and Turkey during the talks came when Cavusoglu admitted that Turkey wanted to maintain its unilateral intervention rights on the island and be able to intervene whenever it saw fit. Turkey wanted to legalise its occupation and, if possible, extend it to the whole of the island, he told the paper.
The biggest problem over time, said Kotzias, was that “we have not been able to persuade Turkish Cypriots to become independent of Turkey,” because “we did not point out the fact that Turkish Cypriots now feel strangers in their homeland and live in a militarised regime.”
The political parties all commented on Eide’s interview, but did not arrive at the same conclusions.
Akel blamed Anastasiades for the fact that, despite Turkey being responsible for the collapse of the talks, nobody in the international community shared this view. Anastasiades, Akel said, allowed Turkey, “through his misguided manipulations, indecisiveness and pre-election expediencies” to play tactical games and win the publicity game in relation to the conference.
It also noted that Eide, in his interviews, gave a different version of what had happened during the final day of the talks from Anastasiades but avoided making an issue of it. “We will not stand on who’s right…. What’s important is the next day,” the party announcement said. The president now had to decide the next moves of the Greek Cypriot side for the creation of conditions for the resumption of the talks.
Edek and the Greens urged the government to seek Eide’s replacement. The Greens called for “a new reliable UN Special Adviser”, as Eide, “has almost officially turned into a defender of the Turkish positions”.
The party said: “Hiding behind the excuse of ‘confidentiality of the procedure’ avoids mentioning everything that took place during that critical dinner.”
Edek also accused Eide of bias and said he had great responsibility for the failure of the talks, as he was unprepared and did not handle things well.
“It was observed in Geneva and it was confirmed in Crans-Montana that Mr. Eide’s role was biased in favour of Turkish positions,” Edek said. The party did not believe Eide was a trustworthy UN representative. It also blamed Anastasiades for Eide’s behaviour, as he was “tolerating his biased stance and repeated lies”.
Diko also said that Eide “acts as an advocate and supporter of Turkish positions” and that he was a liar. “In spite of being proven wrong by the facts, the Greek Foreign Minister and others that were present at the July 6 dinner, he insists on lying with audacity,” the Diko statement said.