U.N. Secretary-General Ant?nio Guterres is heading back to Switzerland on Thursday to give Cypriots a final shove toward the reunification of their long-divided island.

When Guterres left the Greek and Turkish Cypriot negotiators and Cyprus’ guarantor countries on a Swiss mountaintop last Saturday to negotiate the last and most sensitive issues of the peace deal, he urged them: Show me the flexibility needed to reach a compromise, and I’ll come back, according to diplomats who have been following the talks from different sides.

After a few rough days in which the sides mostly clung to long-standing positions, they started to make small steps on Tuesday, giving Guterres enough reason to return to Crans-Montana – in the hope of being able to announce some kind of success.

“It’s time to give and take, and this is the job of Guterres,” said one diplomatic source close to the negotiations.

In a sign that they are nearing an agreement, the U.N. chief could be joined by prime ministers. The Cypriot newspaper Politis reported that Turkey’s Binali Yildirim and Britain’s Theresa May are going, and that Greece’s Alexis Tsipras is expected. However, May’s spokesman said there were “no current plans” to attend. EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini set off on Wednesday, a spokesperson confirmed.

The Switzerland conference between Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades, his Turkish Cypriot counterpart Mustafa Akinci, and Greece, Turkey and the U.K. started a week ago, with the aim of at least making a breakthrough that can lead to a reunification agreement and referendum in Cyprus in the coming months. The U.N. is mediating the talks and the EU is there to show support.

The call for Guterres’ return is a somewhat ironic ending to a negotiation billed as being entirely led by Anastasiades and Akinci, in a deliberate attempt to shake off association with the failed 2004 reunification plan named after then U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

Guterres presented a framework for compromise on the outstanding issues last week and told the negotiators to put their positions on paper and start looking for convergence. The framework provides a roadmap to a settlement, but neither side was fully willing to trade its last chips without the U.N. chief there.

Source: National News Agency