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Our View: Target date is needed for conclusion of Cyprob talks

File photo: Christodoulides, Anastasiades and Mavroyiannis in Crans Montana

Turkish Cypriot opposition politicians made some very pertinent points regarding a new peace process, in an article published in the last Sunday Mail, which the Greek Cypriot leadership should take heed of, if it does not want the mission of the UN Secretary-General’s personal envoy to end in failure.

While all these politicians support a bizonal, bicommunal federation with political equality, as per the UN resolutions, they all expressed strong objections to the open-ended process, which seems to be favoured by President Nikos Christodoulides, who gives the impression that, for him, the resumption of talks was an end in itself, although repeatedly asserting that the status quo is not sustainable.

Opposite him is Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar, who sets the condition of sovereign equality for a resumption of talks and wants a two-state solution, a position that has the support of Ankara. In short, the common ground that the UNSG’ envoy Maria Angela Holguin has been sent to find does not exist. As Ozdil Nami, negotiator for two Turkish Cypriot leaders, said, “there is no common ground,” adding that “in Crans Montana a solution was on the table and still we failed.” The problem, he believed was “not the content but the process.”

It is difficult to disagree, considering we have relied on this open-ended process for five decades without reaching an agreement. “No peace process has reached success without a target date,” CTP’s Fikri Toros told the Sunday Mail, arguing that there must be “a set time frame, if not a target date whereby negotiations must be concluded.” All presidents of the republic, and the Greek Cypriot political parties, have been vehemently opposed to what they describe as “suffocating” or “artificial” timeframes, setting the open-ended process as a condition for going to talks.

This dispute appeared again when Holguin’s appointment was announced, with the Turkish Cypriots claiming that she had six months to find the common ground and Greek Cypriot insisting there was no such timeframe. Yet, after all these years, of interminable talks that have led nowhere, it is not unreasonable to set a target date, if there is to be a resumption of talks, especially as, according to both sides most aspects of a settlement had been agreed. What is the justification for opposing a target date for completion of talks?

This must be treated as a matter of urgency considering the status quo is not sustainable and the UNSG’s envoy will not be searching for common ground indefinitely. In addition to this, agreeing to a target date, will show that Christodoulides means business, something that has not been evident in his generalised declarations. Agreeing to a specific structure, including the proposal that, in the event that negotiations are completed, there should be consequences for the side that rejects the settlement plan, could provide the common ground for a resumption of talks.

It should be said that neither Nami nor Toros speak on behalf of Tatar and Turkey, who have given no indication they embrace these views, which could offer a way of preventing Holguin’s mission ending in failure.

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