Conditions for a resumption of the Cyprus talks should be created by September to have negotiations back on, well before the presidential elections in February next year, Greek Cypriot chief negotiator Andreas Mavroyiannis has said.
In an interview with Politis, Mavroyiannis said a resumption of the talks must happen “the sooner the better” because otherwise everything that has been discussed is in danger of being lost.
The process that collapsed in Crans-Montana, Switzerland in early July had gone further than any other in the past, he said. “We must not allow time to be lost. We must slowly, until September, manage to create the conditions for the reactivation of the [UN] Good Offices and perhaps see if another high-level meeting can be held.”
This would involve the UN Secretary-General appointing a new special adviser for Cyprus since Espen Barth Eide will not be returning.
Mavroyiannis said the Greek Cypriot side was concerned about statements that Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot side want to move on to alternative plans.
“We want to stay focused on the process. But the Turkish Cypriots should also reconsider their position,” he said.
“Reunification of the country is not only the result of an economic or political analysis. Above all, it is a matter of an ethical approach to life. We are a small country and the people should be able to live together and to cooperate. I cannot accept how we can be with the rest of the world and half a billion Europeans and yet we cannot live together,” he added.
“The second element is that the quality of the solution matters… if it really has added value. Our vision is a reunited modern European society in which all Cypriots belong.”
He said the Greek Cypriot side had not questioned UN parameters for the negotiations and that it was the Turkish side that said after Crans-Montana about ending the UN framework. Mavroyiannis said that he had spent the past ten days in Brussels, Paris, New York, and Washington “and we have clearly sent our message”.
He added that “internal political speech is less relevant”. “What I know is that we remain committed to the process.”
Mavroyiannis said he believes that besides the issue of Turkey, one of the major issues in Cyprus is the legacy of the past “like all humanitarian issues, guarantees, occupation, displacement, property, territory”.
“But I think that in building a tomorrow that you can manage this legacy,” he said.
Asked about what had happened at the ‘last supper’ in Crans-Montana the night of July 6, when the talks failed, Mavroyiannis said the ideas presented by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres did not come out of nowhere and were based on previous discussions.
They were his own thoughts and suggestions and did not bind anyone, but Guterres believed they could give a decisive impetus to the negotiations.
All sides had accepted to work on the six points, but he said there was a risk to the Greek Cypriot side “which was supposed to accept that five elements of the package should be agreed while the sixth element, the retention of some troops for a period that would not be predetermined if it would be a sunset clause or review clause, would be open to the prime ministers”.
“We arrived on the final day, the Secretary-General came back, we all consulted and ended up at dinner. In theory, he could have further elaborated the ideas he had put forward the previous week to present it as a document. He did not do so out of respect for the Good Offices Mission. He asked from all of us to confide our limits confidentially so that he could understand what can or cannot happen,” said Mavroyiannis.
He said that when the dinner started everyone wanted, as was natural, to know where everyone else stood. “We said we wanted to know Turkey’s position on guarantees and troops. We reiterated that what we were to give was written down the day before with our proposals on all the issues on the morning of July 6 with our ambitious proposal for future security architecture,” he added.
Mavroyiannis said then, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said what he had told Guterres was confidential even though in his meeting with Cavusoglu, Guterres believed from his private meeting with the Turkish foreign minister, that Ankara would be receptive to abolishing the guarantees and right of intervention. But when Guterres suggested they come up with a small unofficial text, Cavusoglu had balked.
“It is not enough just to say that I have suggestions, I am flexible and then I do not reveal to the interlocutor the content of the proposals,” Mavroyiannis said adding that it’s not possible to simply write into a deal ’Turkey is flexible’.
Mavroyiannis said the plan has been that the details of the package would be discussed and if the issue of the troops’ sunset or review clause was all that remained, the prime ministers of the guarantor powers would be called in. He said Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci had wanted them to go to Crans-Montana in case they could help push things along
“We disputed this approach because it would be like we were officially bringing the prime ministers to seal the impasse. No one had the intention of instructing the prime ministers to resolve outstanding issues,” he said.