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Sides missed historic opportunity to resolve division, Guterres says

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres

A historic opportunity was missed in Switzerland to settle the Cyprus problem earlier this year, United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres said, and it would take the strongest of will, determination, and mutual trust to resolve the matter in the future.

“The parties had come close to reaching a strategic understanding on security and guarantees as well as on all other outstanding core elements of a comprehensive settlement,” Guterres’ said in his report on Cyprus to the Security Council, published by Politis on Tuesday. “It is, therefore, my firm belief that a historic opportunity was missed in Crans Montana.”

The latest round of reunification talks at the Swiss resort of Crans Montana took place between June 28 and July 6 but again ended in deadlock over disagreements on security and guarantees.

Greek and Turkish Cypriots have since blamed each other for the collapse.

According to the report, despite a positive mood and constructive statements made during the opening day of the conference, real progress quickly became hampered by the parties at one ‘table’ being reluctant to make compromises unless demonstrated progress had been made at the other ‘table’, and vice versa.

“In an effort to resolve this dilemma, on June 30, I presented the parties with a framework for simultaneously resolving six major outstanding issues at both ‘tables’ as elements of a final package that, in my view, would lead to a comprehensive settlement. These were related to territory, political equality, property, equivalent treatment, and security and guarantees.”

However, the parties were unable to finalize a package and bridge remaining differences during the dinner, the report said.

“While the parties were moving closer on substance, they remained far apart with respect to the necessary trust and determination to seek common ground through mutual accommodation, ultimately preventing them from reaching the broad outlines of a strategic understanding across the negotiating chapters which could have paved the way for the final settlement deal.”

The UNSG said it would take a lot to overcome the final hurdles towards a settlement.

“Even if all the core enablers are in place, as they appeared to be in Crans Montana in late June, I am convinced that the prospects of pushing this process finally ‘over the finishing line’ will remain elusive without the strongest of political will, courage and determination, mutual trust and a readiness on the part of all parties to take calculated risks in the last and most difficult mile of the negotiations.”

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