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‘No terms and conditions for UN envoy’

President Nikos Christodoulides speaking to the press
File photo

President Nikos Christodoulides on Thursday said the UN envoy set to come to Cyprus will not have terms and conditions, responding to comments from ‘officials’ in the north that the envoy will have to operate in parameters they approve.

On Wednesday, the north’s ‘foreign minister’ Tahsin Ertugruloglu said that they accept an envoy coming on the condition that there is no search for common ground for a federation.

“The position of the Turkish side is to try to find common ground on the basis of two states,” he said.

Responding to this declaration, Christodoulides said: “There are no terms, I heard the statements. The UN Secretary-General is bound by the resolutions of the UN Security Council, from where the Secretary-General receives his mandate. I hope there is political will, and we can definitely move towards the resumption of talks much faster. It won’t take six months if there is political will.”

Commenting on a journalist’s remark that the Turkish Cypriot side rejects the federation model, he said: “The Secretary-General, who we hope will appoint a person to explore the prospects for resuming talks, is bound by the very resolutions of the UN Security Council. That is where the UN Secretary-General gets his terms of reference from, so his envoy also moves within the same framework.”

When asked if the Turkish side responded positively to the appointment of a specific person, pegged to be the choice for the envoy, the president said that “we have no official information from the UN that there was an official response. We know from statements (of the Turkish Cypriot side) that were made.”

Ertugruloglu seemingly confirmed that in the north they had accepted the name tabled.

On Wednesday the government gave its consent for the individual pegged by the UN Secretary-General to be his envoy in Cyprus, government spokesman Konstantinos Letymbiotis said, with the individual’s mission expected not to be indefinite.

Speaking at a media briefing at the presidential palace, Letymbiotis said the government has given its formal consent for the envoy to begin working on the matter.

Regarding the name of the individual that has circulated, Letymbiotis said: “We cannot confirm anything, and we need to wait for the official announcement from the UN Secretary General.”

The government’s hesitance in naming an envoy has not been shared by the media, with reports across Cypriot and international media saying Maria Angela Holguin Cuellar has been chosen as the envoy.

Cuellar served as foreign minister of Colombia between 2010 and 2018 and was also head of the Colombian mission to the UN and the ambassador of her country to Venezuela.

Asked by the Cyprus Mail to comment on the envoy staying in Cyprus for six months, Letymbiotis did not mention a specific timeframe.

“We hope that there will be sincere political will (also from the other side) and that the negotiations will resume as soon as possible,” he said.

However, sources later said that the envoy would stay for a short period of time, to begin laying the groundwork.

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