Cyprus Mail
CM Regular ColumnistOpinion

Does the Guterres framework solve the Cyprus problem?

File photo: Antonio Guterres, Nicos Anastasiades and Mustafa Akinci at Crans Montana (CNA)

By Costas Apostolides


READING the papers and listening to political discussions one gets the impression that the Guterres framework submitted at Crans-Montana resolves the Cyprus problem.

That is a misconception. The Guterres framework provides an approach to resolving the problem, but it does not deal effectively with the issues because it is incomplete.

The details in themselves are difficult to put together, and a whole series of things, including democratic and human rights issues have to be resolved without destroying the framework of UN policy, or providing precedents for other conflicts, most notably Palestine.

The Guterres framework is incomplete because it has not been placed within the overall framework of a Cyprus settlement as prescribed in UN Security Council (UNSC) resolutions, and the agreements between the leaders of the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities which have been accepted by the UNSC.

It has also created confusion because the framework was presented orally and changes were made, a clear statement on the framework has not been produced by the UN, and each community appears to be using a different interpretation. As a result, this lack of professionalism by the UN is allowing the two community leaders to avoid a joint acceptance of the framework by putting forward different versions.

Key issues which are missing include the following:

  • It does not place the framework within the context of the UN Security Council resolutions, most notably the UN definition of equality in the Cyprus context.
  • It does not present the agreed basis for a settlement which is contained in the Joint Statement of Nicos Anastasiades and Dervis Eroglu of February 11, 2014 (significant because both are right-wing nationalists) and which states the following in Paragraph 1: The settlement will benefit both Greek and Turkish Cypriots while “respecting democratic principles, human rights and fundamental freedoms, as well as each other’s distinct identity and integrity and ensuring their common future in a united Cyprus within the European Union.”
  • The Joint Statement in Paragraph 3 sets out the basic features of a United Cyprus Federal Republic as follows:

“The settlement will be based on a bi-communal, bizonal,  federation with political equality as set out in the relevant Security Council Resolutions and the High level agreements.”

  • In paragraph 5 it is reaffirmed that “nothing is agreed until everything is agreed”

In view of the confusion of what the Guterres framework actually states, the following presentation is based on the UN Secretary General’s official report to the Security Council, with comments on the proposals made in the document, based on an assessment of the degree of difficulty of achieving agreement on each UNSG proposal.

At the Crans-Montana meeting on June 28, 2017, the UNSG presented a framework to overcome the problems still remaining in the negotiations involving six elements: territory, political equality, property, equivalent treatment of Turkish citizens, security and guarantees.

Part of the problem is that the UNSG has set a “framework for discussion” which is not a solution to the problems which have to be negotiated.  Consequently, the following measures are required:

  • The principle that nothing is agreed until everything is agreed is confirmed.
  • The principle that the security of one community should not come at the expense of the security of the other community.
  • The February 11, 2014 agreement on a bicommunal, bizonal and democratic federal constitution is confirmed.
  • The UN should present a complete and clear presentation of the Guterres framework.
  • The UN non-paper on how to implement a settlement should be included in the process.

The Guterres Framework

  • Territory: Progress had been achieved with convergence, but not final agreement, on the areas of the two constituent states
  • Political Equality: Progress was made on governance but an outstanding issue is the TCC position of a rotating presidency. Here there are several problems, the most important how do you apply a democratic rotating presidency when the ratio of population is 80 per cent GCC and 20 per cent TCC? the UN defined political equality in UNSC resolution in Resolution 750 as the equality of the two constituent states, consequently, the rotating presidency is not included in UN resolutions.

One way of doing it democratically is for a GC and TC candidate to run together for President and Vice-president, the election requirement being over 50 per cent of the total GC/TC vote, as long as both candidates get at least 25 per cent of the vote of their own community. A six-year term is implied, four years for the GC and two years for the TC.

  • On property, the framework implies that the users have priority in the constituent states, and the owners in the area under territorial adjustment. That means that most Greek Cypriots owners in the north and TC owners in the south will not get restitution of their property.


  • Equivalent Treatment of Turkish citizens is still under discussion and has to be in line with EU regulations but may be resolved in the presently unlikely event of Turkey gaining membership of the EU.
  • Guterres stated that the current system of guarantees for Cyprus under the Treaty of Guarantee, containing the unilateral right to intervention was “unsustainable”. The question then arises as to who would guarantee the implementation of the settlement? The only answer appears to be the UN Security Council with participation of Greece and Turkey and the Republic of Cyprus.
  • On security issues assuming the present treaties are “unsustainable”, I would suggest that this would again be under the UN Security with 2,000 troops assigned to UNFICYP, of which 500 from Turkey and 500 from Greece, all under UN command. Such a force may be required for 10 years (at least 7 years are needed for the resettlement to be implemented.

Therefore, it appears that the Guterres framework could result in a settlement, but we all need the UN to include the components mentioned above and the UN to submit one clear document and get UNSC support for it in a new resolution.

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