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‘No question’ of appointing new UNSG envoy (update 2)

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There is no question at the moment of appointing a new envoy on behalf of the UN Secretary-General since the two sides do not agree on what that person’s mandate would be, Special Representative Colin Stewart said on Tuesday.

Stewart, who was appointed late last year, made the comment following a meeting with President Nicos Anastasiades at the presidential palace. He met Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar in the afternoon and reiterated that there “is a very wide distance between the two sides”.

He told reporters that he had discussed with Anastasiades the briefing he had given the UN Security Council on Cyprus and the meeting he had with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in New York.

Stewart and Anastasiades also discussed the latter’s confidence-building proposals. Tatar later made statements saying he is open to the addition of a new crossing at Famagusta gate, hinting at the shape that some of the proposals may take.

‘He [the President] mentioned it and he remains enthusiastic about this issue,” said Stewart. “I told him that the Security Council is very supportive of measures that can bring the two sides closer together and increase inter-communal contacts”.

He also said he had the pleasure of working with the negotiators and the technical committees “who are doing a very important and very good job that affects people’s lives as we saw recently with the coronavirus”.

There was also a lot that could be done to find favourable conditions for a solution, “while we try to find a way to a settlement”, he added.

In answer to a question, Stewart said he would not be ‘conveying any messages’ to Tatar, saying the Turkish Cypriot leader was aware of Anastasiades’ proposals.

Asked if there was anything new on the appointment of an envoy for the Cyprus issue, Stewart said there was not enough progress. “We do not find agreement between the parties on the terms of the envoy’s mandate,” he said.

Stewart made similar statements following his meeting with the Turkish Cypriot leader, again calling for confidence building measures to bring the two communities together, but said the specifics must be decided by the two communities themselves.

“We should look at measures that can positively impact the life of Cypriots, especially things that have economic impact, things that bring people together and help build understanding,” he said, adding that: “What these exact measures would be of course depends on the sides and we are here to facilitate them.”

Following Tatar’s meeting with Stewart, which reportedly lasted about an hour, the Turkish Cypriot leader said that should the proposal of two, sovereign states be approved then talks can resume. There is no question of the Turkish Cypriot side abandoning or stepping back from this position, he said.

After the meeting in the government-controlled areas, spokesman Marios Pelekanos said the “appropriate conditions for the implementation of the effort” to appoint an envoy were discussed. “The president of the republic expressed the position of our side regarding the recent report of the Secretary-General, while noting the satisfaction of our side regarding the content of the resolution adopted by the Security Council for the extension of the mandate of the peacekeeping force in Cyprus.

The UN’s latest report on the UN chief’s Good Offices Mission in Cyprus painted a bleak picture when it came to discussion on kicking off new settlement talks although the Security Council did renew Unficyp’s mandate until the end of July, despite the lack of political progress.

Tatar insisted on Sunday there would be no formal Cyprus talks until the sovereignty of the Turkish Cypriots was recognised.

On Tuesday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu also said there was no question of Ankara relinquishing it’s guarantorship of Cyprus.

He was asked in parliament whether it was true that Turkey had been willing to withdraw its troops down to 650 during failed Cyprus negotiations in Crans-Montana, Switzerland in 2017.

Cavusoglu responded that Ankara could not relinquish its rights as a guarantor in Cyprus, saying that the presence of Turkish troops on the island was “the only element safeguarding legitimate concerns for the security of the Turkish Cypriots.

“The allegations that Turkey is ready to give up the rights of guarantor in Cyprus were also reflected in the Greek Press in 2020 and the [Turkish] ministry of foreign affairs had stated that these reports do not reflect the truth,” he added.

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