Steps are being taken to return to the negotiating table, Eide tells CNA in an interview

Note to editors: The full interview will be filed tomorrow

There are steps being taken to bring the leaders of the islands two communities back to the negotiating table, UN Secretary Generals Special Adviser on Cyprus Espen Barth Eide has told CNA, pointing out however that if he does not spell out these steps, they will probably be more successful.

“It takes two to tango and requires some will of neutral accommodation,” he said, adding that the two leaders, Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci, will both lose if the current situation takes too much time to be resolved.

“I cannot fix this for them, I cannot provide the magical formula,” he told CNA in an interview.

On the current state of affairs at the talks, he said he focuses on how the leaders can come back to the negotiating table, acknowledging that “there is so much I can do” and pointing out that the much bigger issue is whether they will manage to have a structured process once the leaders are back at the table.

He expressed a level of worry because “we have been stuck a while in this last mile issue” and everybody “has been waiting for the move from the other side.”

This, he maintained, is a Cypriot crisis, it was created in Cyprus and can be solved in Cyprus.

With regard to the April referendum in Turkey, he acknowledged that any development in the vicinity that is of importance including the referendum is relevant “but it is not argument not to talk now.”

On the peace effort, he said there is still some time but he would be worried if anybody thought that “we have an eternity because eternity is not available in this.”

Replying to questions, he said civil society, the Cypriot people and all those political forces who are pro settlement are his “best supporters” in efforts to return to the talks.

He explained that the reason behind his realistic optimism lies in the “personal trust between the two leaders” who have repeatedly gone the extra mile to keep the process moving forward.

Eide expressed some concern about the fact that “something has happened to that relationship which transpires in society at large”.

In the interview Eide referred to a formula which he believes can “fly” if people think outside the box, saying that the issue of security is not fundamentally a military issue, and pointing out that a sense of security can be achieved by working on four layers (constitutional, internal, implementation and external).

On this he explained that this is not something the UN has invented but it is based on long intense constructive negotiations with all players, Greek Cypriots, Turkish Cypriots, Athens, Ankara and the UK.

Eide stressed that this is not done nor is it on the table as agreed.

“We are not inventing Cyprus, Cyprus exists, it is divided but it exists,” he stressed, replying to another question, adding that the current system of guarantees cannot continue, it has to be substituted and this cannot be done without Greece and Turkey. This, he explained, is an observation of the real world, not his view.

“Our ambition is to walk this path with them (leaders and Cypriot people) but we cannot walk it for themselves,” he told CNA, referring to UN efforts and the Cypriot led effort to find a negotiated settlement to reunite Cyprus.

The Republic of Cyprus, an EU member since 2004, has been divided since the 1974 Turkish invasion. UN – led talks between the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot communities resumed in May 2015 with a view to reunite the island under a federal roof. The talks were interrupted in mid February by the Turkish Cypriot side, which demands that a decision passed by the Cypriot Parliament relating to a 1950 referendum on union with Greece is revoked, claiming this indicates a shift in Greek Cypriot goal for a federal solution. The amendment notes that there will be a very brief reference to the referendum at schools.

President Anastasiades has described the House decision as wrong and called on the leader of the Turkish Cypriot side, Mustafa Akinci, who walked out of the talks, to return to the negotiating table to discuss pending issues with a view to reaching a mutually acceptable agreement to reunite the country.

The Turkish side has demanded that Turkish nationals in Cyprus should be granted the four EU fundamental freedoms which European citizens enjoy, even if Turkey is not an EU member state.

Source: Cyprus News Agency