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‘Frank talks’ but little sign of real progress, Guterres promises to continue efforts

The two leaders with UN chief Antonio Guterres

The Berlin trilateral meeting ended on Monday with a promise by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to continue efforts towards an agreement on the terms of reference so that proper negotiations can resume.

The UN chief reiterated, however, that this time attitudes must be different. He described his talks with the two leaders as “focused and frank”.

The two leaders, Nicos Anastasiades and Mustafa Akinci said they were both satisfied with the outcome.

Following the working dinner lasting around two-and-a-half-hours with the two leaders in Berlin, Guterres announced that he has agreed to extend his efforts “to achieve terms of reference to serve as a consensus starting point for phased, meaningful, and results-oriented negotiations at the earliest feasible opportunity”.

He also said he committed to explore with the two leaders and the guarantor powers the possibility of convening an informal five-plus-UN meeting at an appropriate stage.

“It is acknowledged that this time must be different,” Guterres said.

Guterres said both leaders welcomed his engagement and reaffirmed their commitment and determination to achieve a settlement based on a bizonal, bicommunal federation with political equality as set out in the relevant Security Council resolutions.

“The Turkish Cypriot leader and the Greek Cypriot leader, motivated by a sense of urgency, agreed that achieving a comprehensive and durable settlement to the Cyprus problem within a foreseeable horizon is of utmost importance to the future well-being of both communities and that the status quo is unsustainable,” he said.

He added that the two leaders affirmed their commitment to the Joint Declaration of February 11, 2014, the prior convergences and the six-point framework he presented on June 30, 2017 in Crans-Montana.

The carefully worded but bland statement from the UN chief confirmed the general feeling that little was to be expected from the meeting.

Both sides had stated they were headed to Berlin aiming to achieve progress for the process to move forward but had expressed only reserved optimism.

The working dinner took place in a third-floor suite of the Adlon Kempinski hotel in the German capital.

After the meeting, Anastasiades spoke of a “creative consultation effort” throughout the day on behalf of the negotiators and UN special envoy Jane Holl Lute that led, with the consent of Guterres and the two leaders, to the elements included in the joint announcement issued by the UN.

“Despite the known difficulties the result of today’s meeting is deemed as a first positive step in the effort to restart the dialogue,” Anastasiades said.

He said it was important that the UN Secretary-General reiterated his determination to continue, in cooperation with the two leaders and the guarantors, making the effort for an informal five-party meeting. “A meeting, whose task would be the agreement on the terms of reference that will allow the repetition of a targeted and creative dialogue that will lead us to a viable and functional solution.”

“The convergence of positions of the two leaders on the main parameters which will govern the sought solution,” is another element he pointed out referring to the three points mentioned in the UN statement.

“It goes without saying that for substantive talks to restart, beyond an agreement on the terms of reference, Turkey must end her illegal activities at the expense of the Republic of Cyprus, any threats to settle Famagusta, or any threats for faits accomplis in the buffer zone,” Anastasiades said.

The Turkish Cypriot leader too said he found the outcome of the meeting to be positive.

He said that the process which had been derailed was back on track, but that this alone was not enough as there was still much work that needed to be done.

Akinci said that Guterres’ involvement was important particularly after his reluctance following the end of the Crans-Montana talks, adding that he was certain the UN chief had his reasons, probably tensions over hydrocarbons being one of them.

“We saw the UNSG’s commitment to continue the process to finalise the terms of reference will continue and the UNSG will explore the possibility of an informal five-party meeting.”

He said that mention of a strategic agreement was important as was reference to the modalities especially the fact that the process could not be the same, that it could not be open-ended and needed to be results-oriented.

Akinci also said that the reference made to political equality was also positive, adding that the statement had put an end to the debate on the date of the Guterres framework.

Prior to the dinner, Guterres had short separate meetings with the leaders.

Anastasiades and Akinci bumped into each other on Monday morning at the hotel at breakfast where they are both staying and exchanged greetings.

Earlier in the day, his envoy, Jane Holl Lute met Greek Cypriot negotiator Andreas Mavroyiannis and Turkish Cypriot negotiator Erhan Ercin.

Ahead of the meeting, pro reunification group Unite Cyprus Now (UCN) had sent a letter to Guterres and the UN Security Council asking them to work with the leaders to bring an end to the division of Cyprus and to keep the sides within UN parameters, the June 30 framework and past agreements.


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