Eide optimistic that new Conference in Switzerland could bring a “strategic agreement”

Success would mean that we have a strategic agreement on the key outstanding issues, the UN Secretary General’s Special Adviser on Cyprus, Espen Barth Eide, said when asked on Tuesday in Greece to foresee the best, in his opinion, scenario in the renewed high-level talks on the future of the divided island, which convene again next week in Switzerland.

Athens was his last stop in a round of conversations he held with officials from all parties involved in the difficult and complicated talks in search for a solution to the Cyprus problem. His meeting with Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias lasted more than two hours, and was described by Eide as really very useful. Kotzias opted to refrain from making statements. Eide did not.

He said that the key outstanding issues which are at stake at the mountainous resort of Crans Montana, as of June the 28th, include security and guarantees, crucial elements of territory, of properties, of governance and power sharing, particularly the nature of the executive powers. If all these are agreed upon, he said, then we have basically solved those issues that are deal-breakers.

Even with this success in the Swiss Conference, there will still be work, because there are lot of issues below that level, which need to be completed, such as economic details, legal matters, and the spelling out of a new constitution, said Eide.

The Norwegian diplomat seemed to be pleased with the very positive development of the agreement of all parties to meet again around the same table and try to work out a solution which, as is frequently said, might not satisfy anyone, but will be accepted by all. Eide told reporters in Athens today that all the officials that he has talked to lately, in his efforts to keep the negotiations alive, have assured him personally that they will be going to Crans Montana with the intention to reach an agreement.

It will not be easy, says Eide. Hard work, and much time will be needed. And that’s why, he added, we are technically preparing for the summit to last even weeks if needs be.

At the starting point, all sides involved in the complicated Cyprus issue, still maintain large differences. Eide says that it takes quite a lot of creativity and fresh thinking to find ways to overcome the traditional differences. However, he suggests that he has received positive signs that the will to overcome these differences is there. And he mentioned that he was briefed by Foreign Minister Kotzias on what was actually discussed on Monday in Athens between the Prime Ministers of Greece and Turkey, Tsipras and Yildirim, and their delegations too, and that both sides stated that they have a shared commitment to try and do their best.

The new round of negotiations in Crans Montana is a reconvening of the Conference that started in Geneva last January.

The parties which will take place in this peace process are: The Greek Cypriots, represented by President of the Republic Nicos Anastasiades, the Turkish Cypriots, represented by the leader of their community Mustafa Akinci, Turkey-Greece-UK as guarantor powers, and the European Union (EU) as an observer.

Earlier this month, the UN Secretary General had dinner with the leaders of the two communities in Cyprus, and agreed that the issues of security and guarantees on the island is a pivotal and very important chapter and in many ways to a holistic settlement of the Cyprus issue.

Greece and the Republic of Cyprus have maintained that a solution regarding a country-member of the EU does not need any guarantees, which they call an anachronistic condition, nor will any Greek-Cypriot vote in favour of any solution which may allow the continued presence of Turkey’s army on the island � currently estimated at about 40,000 soldiers.

Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots, on the other hand, have insisted until now that guarantor powers and some military presence is needed so that the Turkish Cypriot community in the occupied north can continue to feel safe.

Cyprus was invaded in 1974 by Turkey following a coup by nationalist forces in Greece and Cyprus in an attempt to topple the elected government of Archbishop Makarios and to unify the island with Greece. Turkey has occupied since then almost half the island, the north part of which has declared itself a country, without any international recognition.

Source: Cyprus News Agency