Hope remains alive for the Cyprus peace talks despite the disappointment of the failure in Crans-Montana in 2017, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative in Cyprus Elizabeth Spehar said on Tuesday.
Spehar was addressing an International Conference on the “30 years of dialogue between Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot political parties in service of peace in Cyprus” hosted by the embassy of Slovakia in Cyprus.
The Minister of Foreign and European Affairs of the Slovak Republic and Chairman in office of the OSCE Miroslav Lajčák was also at the event as was former President George Vassiliou, former foreign ministers Nicos Rolandis, George Iacovou and Erato Kozakou-Marcoullis, Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot politicians, and foreign ambassadors to Cyprus.
In her speech, Spehar said negotiations have been in hiatus for close to two years now with the UN striving to support the parties to return to viable talks through on-going consultations facilitated by the UNSG’s Special Envoy Jane Holl Lute.
“The Secretary-General has appealed to the sides to seize this opportunity with a sense of urgency, as we all know that time, after all these years, is increasingly not on the side of a solution. This multi-party, cross-communal forum should provide strong encouragement and active support to the leaders to redouble their efforts to return to dialogue,” she said.
“Will political parties in Cyprus be part of the solution, or part of sustaining the problem, going forward?”
Spehar stressed the need for dialogue to continue, and to continue to invest in the forum of meetings between Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot parties. She also underlined that more young people as well as women need to be brought into the discussions.
UN-sponsored polling found that a majority of Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots want the leaders to return to negotiations, she said, and, despite increasing scepticism that a solution could be achieved, a majority want to see it happen.
In spite of the disappointment following the events in Crans-Montana, “hope indeed still remains alive”, she said, and as the surveys show, a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation is still, at the present moment, the ‘most acceptable solution’ across the two largest communities. In this context, “how can the parties assume their responsibility and advance the cause of peace?”.