Nobody expected anything from the visit of the UN Under Secretary-General Rosemary DiCarlo, who arrived here with no agenda but just to offer a little reassurance that the UN had not completely given up on the Cyprus problem.
The visit had been arranged before the presidential elections, probably so the UN could hear what the new president had to say and explore whether there were grounds “to move the process forward”.
DiCarlo heard nothing new from either side, nothing that would suggest there is the slightest ray of hope for moving the process forward. President Christodoulides repeated what his predecessor had been saying about the immediate resumption of the talks, while Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar repeated his conditions for the resumption of talks – sovereign equality and equal international status – which the Greek Cypriot side does not accept. Tatar, as he had done before, rejected Christodoulides’ proposal for the active involvement of the EU in the peace process.
In short, there was nothing to report even though the Cyprus government, for which presentation seems of paramount importance, felt obliged to highlight the ‘positives’ of the visit.
Presidential palace sources said DiCarlo conveyed the UNSG’s commitment to the Security Council resolutions on Cyprus, which meant the basis for a settlement was still a bizonal, bicommunal federation. Was there really any possibility that the UNSG would not be bound by the Security Council resolutions?
Speaking after the DiCarlo-Christodoulides meeting, government spokesman Constantinos Letymbiotis said the president would try to see the UNSG on the sidelines of next week’s European Council in Brusssels, and was ready to travel to New York for a meeting whenever Antonia Guterres deemed this necessary. Letymbiotis also said that the meeting was considered “very significant” because “Ms DiCarlo reports directly to the UNSG.” What the president had “mentioned repeatedly, and his public statements prove it, is that our side will contribute positively and substantively to this effort for an immediate resumption.”
On the communications front, the government plays a good game, but the reality is that public statements, voicing support for the resumption of the talks, do not bring us any closer to the resumption of talks. More is needed if the current deadlock is to be broken and it is unrealistic to believe that talks, along the lines they were held in the past, are an option. Neither the Turks not the UN, nor the EU would agree to a formula that leads nowhere.
If there is to be a breakthrough we should make proposals on a new talks format – one that would last a month or two – make an unequivocal commitment to political equality, to underline our support for BBF, and undertake some confidence-building measures unilaterally to help the process move forward.
President Christodoulides, quite rightly, has made it very clear that the status quo is unacceptable, but he must realise that to create prospects of breaking the deadlock, talking about your good intentions is not enough.