By Evie Andreou
Foreign Minister, Nicos Christodoulides expressed hope on Thursday that the visit later this month by UN envoy Jane Holl Lute would yield such results so as to allow the continuation of the settlement talks from where they left off last summer.
In his statements to journalists at the presidential palace after the Cabinet meeting, Christodoulides said President Nicos Anastasiades was having a number of telephone communications with heads of state and EU officials on the possibility of the recommencement of the talks.
Anastasiades, he said, had a telephone conversation on Wednesday with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras ahead of the latter’s scheduled meeting on Thursday with the Turkish President on the sidelines of the Nato summit meeting in Brussels. The two men discussed the positions that need to be conveyed to the Turkish president as regards the international aspects of the Cyprus problem, the issue of security and guarantees, Christodoulides said.
Anastasiades has had telephone communications on the matter in the recent past and will continue in the next few days, the minister said. On Thursday afternoon, Anastasiades also had a telephone conversation with the President of the European Council.
“All these communications and contacts that will take place in the immediate future are also related to Ms Jane Hall Lute’s arrival in Cyprus and (visits) to all interested parties, an initiative to be launched in the last week of July,” he said.
“It is our wish and expectation that such data arise from Ms Lute’s contacts that will allow us to continue the negotiations from where they left off in Crans Montana.”
The two leaders will be meeting the new UN envoy on July 23 to discuss the potential of resuming reunification talks a year after they broke down in Switzerland. Lute will be touring the region at the end of this month. She is also expected to hold talks with Greece and Turkey.
Asked if Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s recent statements during his visit in the north leave room for optimism, the minister said that public statements have their own significance, but the meetings are much more important as well as what is being discussed in such contacts as the one that will take place on Thursday between Tsipras and the Turkish president.
From then on, he said, “we take note of the intense interest of the UN Secretary-General, as manifested by Ms. Lute’s mission, and that is something we have been seeking, which we welcome and we look forward to seeing the results of this initiative.”
On whether there is a timeframe in relation to a result of this effort, the minister said that “everything will depend on the completion of Ms Lute’s meetings that will not only be in Cyprus but also in Turkey, Greece, Britain and Brussels.”
It is estimated, he said, that the meetings will be completed around the beginning of September and will then inform the UN Secretary-General, who will also be responsible for taking decisions on the next steps.
On statements by the Turkish Cypriot leader, Mustafa Akinci, that he will not be involved in open-ended negotiations, Christodoulides said that “Mr. Akinci will be able to convey this position to Ms. Lute as the President of the Republic will transfer very concretely the positions of our own side. What we can publicly mention at this time is the wish, the expectation that there will be results from Mrs. Lute’s effort. “
On whether there will be reduction of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (Unficyp), Christodoulides said that “on the one hand, we have a new approach on the part of the United States in terms of peacekeeping missions in general, not just Unficyp, but on the other we must not overlook the clear position of the Secretary General, as expressed in his report, on the need for the continued presence of the peacekeeping force in Cyprus. It is in this context that we are working.” He added that, on July 17, the head of the Unficyp, Elisabeth Spehar, will brief the Security Council on the activities of the peacekeeping force, and before the end of July, a resolution is expected to be adopted.
The UN Secretary General’s report on Unficyp circulated on Wednesday as an official Security Council document.
UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres expresses in his report the conviction that Cyprus has remained calm and stable throughout the years in large measure because of the unwavering presence of the Unficyp, its preventive and deterrent capabilities and its role in defusing tensions. Furthermore, he proposes to the UNSC the renewal of Unficyp’s mandate for six more months, until January 31, 2019.