By George Psyllides
President Nicos Anastasiades said Thursday he was deeply concerned about the lapse of time, and the subsequent consequences, since Cyprus reunification talks collapsed in the summer of 2017 and the fact there has not been any sign of resumption yet.
Addressing the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Thursday, Anastasiades called on Turkey to rise to the occasion and demonstrate the necessary determination to reach a settlement and “concretely contribute to regional stability.”
“Unfortunately, as the peace process remains at an impasse since the Conference on Cyprus of July 2017, I am deeply concerned about the lapse of time and its consequences,” the president said.
When the last round of talks broke down in Crans-Montana, Switzerland last year, Ankara said it was time to look outside the UN framework for a solution.
Recent reports say Turkey is currently making targeted attempts to change the basis of the negotiations, seeking a confederal instead of a federal solution. The Turkish Cypriots also want a fixed timetable.
Anastasiades told the General Assembly that he remained strongly and truly committed to achieving a solution on the basis of the relevant UN resolutions and the European Union acquis, continuing the negotiations on the six-point framework that the UN Secretary General had set at Crans-Montana as the basis for the way forward.
“Let me be clear: Only a viable and functional solution, in line with our EU membership and the best practices of democratic countries of the UN, can establish the conditions for achieving lasting peace, allowing my country to fully take its stride and for all Cypriots to live in a normal state and work together for the prosperity and security of all,” he said.
Anastasiades repeated that Greek Cypriots were determined to rise to the challenge “of our historic responsibility and do our utmost so as to provide a peaceful future for all Cypriots and the region.”
“First and foremost, a viable and lasting settlement would be to the best interest of the people of Cyprus, Greek and Turkish Cypriots, and their aspiration to live in a normal and prosperous European country, fully independent and free from any foreign dependencies.”
The urgency of the negotiations resuming has also in part, a connection with a wider review of peacekeeping forces around the world.
Unficyp’s mandate expires at the end of January 2019 and there is no guarantee it will be renewed given the lack of a settlement and the length of time the force has been in Cyprus – March 1964.
Anastasiades said Cyprus fully concurred with the notion of the primacy of diplomacy in peace-making and conflict-resolution and the supportive, yet catalytic, role of peace-keeping operations therein.
“We ought to admit, however, that the former is jeopardized without the latter and that in the absence of a negotiating process, the need for peace-keeping becomes much greater and indispensable,” he said, offering Cyprus as an example.
“Therefore, while we remain deeply committed to adopting necessary reforms in this pillar, we strongly believe that each peace-keeping operation should be evaluated on its own merit, based on actual needs and threats on the ground. The risks involved are far too grave to allow for any experimentations in this regard.”
The president said Cyprus was in the middle of an extremely volatile and unstable region but its vision is to be a beacon of stability and seek to create synergies in promoting prosperity for all.
“To this end, and being accepted by all as an honest broker with no hidden agenda, we have reinforced our historic close ties with the countries of our immediate region and, alongside Greece, we have established trilateral partnerships with neighbouring countries, including Egypt, Israel, Lebanon, Jordan and Palestine.”
The trilateral partnerships were a practical expression of effective multilateralism, fully in line with the theme of the UN: Shared responsibilities for peaceful, equitable and sustainable societies, he added.
Anastasiades reiterated that the pacts were neither exclusive nor directed against any third country but on the contrary they established cooperation and dialogue in the region, particularly in areas in which there are comparative advantages, like energy.
“At the same time, I remain convinced that the solution of the Cyprus problem will undoubtedly have a very important collateral influence on achieving and maintaining a much-needed environment of stability and peace in the region.”