POLITICS: UN chief sees little enthusiasm for Cyprus peace push

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres detects low expectations for real progress or agreement on the terms of reference to break the 21-month deadlock in Cyprus talks, he said in his Good Offices mission report.

Guterres, whose special envoy Jane Holl Lute is currently engaged in an effort to formulate the terms of reference that will lead to the resumption of Cyprus negotiations, said the envoy will continue discussions on his behalf, adding that the way ahead must be well prepared, with a sense of urgency and focus.

He expressed hope that the ongoing consultations will lead to a return to negotiations, “to which I could devote the full weight of my good offices, with the aim of reaching a lasting resolution of the Cyprus issue.

He called on Cypriot leaders, their communities, the guarantor powers, and other interested parties to engage in these efforts constructively, creatively and with the necessary sense of urgency.

Guterres said that the scepticism on both sides on the prospects for a resumption of the talks continued to prevail in the aftermath of the leaders’ meetings of October 2018 and February 2019, which were conducted in private.

“While some progress was registered on confidence-building measures, there are low expectations for real progress or agreement on the terms of reference.

He added: “while recent efforts to help establish terms of reference have not yet borne fruit, I still hold out hope that the parties will use this opportunity to overcome the differences that persist.”

“We have seen the bright glimmer of hope before, including in the Joint Declaration of February 11, 2014 and in the parties’ willingness to come to Crans-Montana in 2017. Equally, however, we have seen our hopes dashed. All Cypriots deserve our commitment to make every effort to support the parties to deliver on the vision of an island united in peace and security.

Guterres also underlined that each side accept less than the fullest measure of satisfaction on every issue.

The UNSG said the he remains convinced that for a solution to be sustainable, the two communities will have to be well-informed about the contours of a settlement as well as the consequences of not achieving it.

“This requires an open and constructive discourse that transcends polarizing rhetoric and that focuses on the benefits for all Cypriots.

More efforts in this regard are essential and I encourage the sides, in particular the two leaders, to consider ways in which positive messaging and greater information about the process and the overall context can be further strengthened. This will also require greater involvement and engagement of civic actors, youth, and women to build confidence in the steps necessary to agree to and implement a settlement agreement.

Guterres also refers in his report to “the enduring tensions surrounding hydrocarbons exploration”, reiterating that “the natural resources found in and around Cyprus should benefit both communities and can constitute a strong incentive to find a durable solution to the Cyprus problem.”

Source: The Financial Mirror