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Our View: UNSG unlikely to be fooled by leaders’ gimmicks

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

THE CYPRUS problem theatre was given a new twist thanks to the publication of Mustafa Akinci’s letter to the UN Secretary-General, requesting the holding of an informal five-party conference on Cyprus to establish whether all sides were still committed to a bizonal, bicommunal federation (BBF). This, he wrote in his letter dated July 10, would eliminate the confusion caused by the statements of President Anastasiades whom he accused of sending mixed signals with regard to a settlement.

Anastasiades’ spokesmen were quick to point out that the president had come up with the idea of a five-party meeting first, having sent a letter with the proposal on June 14 to the UNSG. His objective for the informal conference, however, was different from Akinci’s. Government spokesman Prodromos Prodromou, in a statement, said the president wrote the letter “with the hope that such an informal conference, properly prepared, would lead to a resumption of the talks.”

The suggestion of the leaders, irrespective of the different objectives and who thought of it first, is unlikely to be taken seriously by Antonio Guterres. UN sources quoted by Cyprus News Agency, suggested the proposals, while welcome, did not justify the involvement of the UNSG. The UN source reminded both sides that on closing the Crans-Montana conference, Guterres had told the two leaders that when they agreed how to proceed in order to reach a settlement to inform him and he would undertake a new initiative.

What part of this very clear statement of two years ago had Akinci and Anastasiades not understood? What is even more astonishing is the expectation that Guterres would waste his precious time and the UN’s resources on a conference of theatrical rather than of practical value, a conference to establish whether the Greek Cypriots support a BBF and whether there could be a resumption of the talks. Is an informal five-party conference, at which nothing of substance could be agreed, necessary to establish if Anastasiades still supports BBF? And do we need a conference to agree to a resumption of talks, when the two leaders have been unable to agree on the terms of reference for a resumption of the talks?

These gimmicks have turned the peace process into a parody and the two leaders want to make the UNSG part of it as well. Guterres is unlikely to play along with them. He was fooled once, two years ago, but won’t get fooled again. The UN does not call conferences for politicians to play games.

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