The US President’s bi-monthly report on Cyprus for the period August 1 – September 29, released on Tuesday by the Department of State, referred to the positions of the two sides over the collapse of the negotiations in Crans Montana, Switzerland, last year.
In the cover letter, Assistant Secretary of State for Legislative Affairs Mary Waters says the report on progress toward a negotiated solution of the Cyprus question covering the period August 1, 2017 to September 29, 2017 “outlines the events from August through September that saw the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities attempting to shape the narrative in the aftermath of the closure without agreement of the Crans Montana conference”.
She then notes that “the United States nevertheless remains committed to ﬁnding a just and lasting settlement reunifying Cyprus as a bizonal, bicommunal federation”.
The report says that in August and September 2017, Cypriot leaders entered a period of reﬂection after the closure of settlement talks in Crans Montana, Switzerland. “Both communities tried to shape the narrative on why the talks concluded without agreement and stake out positions on the way forward”.
The report includes a statement of the Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci on August 5 that “fading prospects for a federal Cyprus meant the next best option was two separate states both within the EU” and adds that Akinci defended Special Advisor to the Secretary-General Espen Barth Eide’s role in the process.
It also says that on September 11, President Anastasiades “repeated his willingness to return to talks provided Turkey respected the UN Secretary—General’s parameters for the creation of a normal state, which Anastasiades interpreted to be without security guarantees and intervention rights”.
It adds that the President sent letters conveying this message to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation states, European Union members, the UN Security Council’s five permanent members, and the UN Secretary-General and that he said he would meet with Akinci and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres together in New York only if the Turkish Cypriots accepted the UN Secretary-General’s framework.
The report notes that on the margins of the September 21 and 22 UN General Assembly, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Southern Europe Jonathan Cohen met with Greek Cypriot representatives, including the then Spokesperson of the Cypriot Government Nikos Christodoulides, and with Turkish Cypriot representatives. “Cohen said the United States remained committed to the UN Secretary-General’s framework and urged both sides to take advantage of the work achieved thus far” it adds.
The report refers extensively to the decision of the breakaway regime in the occupied areas of the Republic of Cyprus on September 25, to impose “taxes” on humanitarian aid sent to the enclaved Greek Cypriots and Maronites living there.
It says that the self-styled foreign minister Tahsin Ertugruloglu told UN Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations that the illegal puppet regime “would start levying customs duties on UN shipments of food (but not medical supplies) to Greek Cypriots and Maronite enclaves, a practice which began in October. Ertugruloglu argued the enclave residents did not need the supplies and were selling them on the local market, and that provisions sent the false impression that Greek Cypriots were conﬁned in the north and did not enjoy freedom of movement. The United Nations said the decision was ‘unfortunate’ and the Greek Cypriot media noted the imposition of duties violated the Third Vienna Agreement” the US President’s report says.
It goes on adding that on September 28, UN Secretary-General Guterres issued the provided report on the mission of his good offices in Cyprus, covering developments from May 2015 to August 2017 and that Guterres assesses “the essence of a comprehensive settlement to the Cyprus problem is practically there and it is, therefore, my firm belief that a historic opportunity was missed in Crans Montana.”
The report notes that Guterres called for a period of reﬂection to determine if and when conditions will mature again for a meaningful process in the near future and that he reiterated the United Nations would be available to continue to host future discussions, should the parties decide to engage in such a process with the necessary political will to conclude the strategic agreement that was emerging in Crans Montana.