There is still some distance to be covered, Eide says

There is still some distance to be covered, UN Secretary Generals Special Adviser on Cyprus Espen Barth Eide said on Wednesday after a meeting he had with Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades.

Eide, who was scheduled to meet Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci immediately after his meeting with the President, noted that “the work may continue not only today but maybe in the coming days,” noting that he sees that there is a common will to try to find a shared platform.

“I had a thorough discussion with Mr. Anastasiades. The sole focus of this discussion is to see if we can reach an agreement between the leaders on whether to come back to the international Conference on Cyprus in Geneva and the necessary modalities of getting there and eventually also if we can have a date,” Eide noted.

He said that he is also in contact with the guarantor powers – Greece, Turkey and the UK.

Asked if he submitted an interim proposal, he said that he is “basically listening to the leaders finding out the fine print of what they need and what they want and then we are trying to find a way to make that compatible. But it is their own ideas that is the raw material of what we are working on.

Replying to questions, Eide said he had consultations with the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres before his new round of talks with the leaders. Yes absolutely. We are in constant contact,” he added.

In his statements after the meeting, Eide said that “we are not done. My shuttle diplomacy will continue.” He added that he is not going to say much about what happened during his meeting with Anastasiades before talking with Akinci.

He reiterated that the process is leader- led and remains leader-led. “So it has to be their desire to go the final mile and go to Geneva and of course while I am doing that I am also in contact with the guarantor powers, because the Conference on Cyprus is an international Conference under the UN auspices led by the Secretary General. But the primary actors are of course the Cypriots and hence the most important conversations I am having now is with the two leaders here in Cyprus,” he pointed out.

Asked what would happen if there is no compromise between the leaders, Eide said that “right now we are trying to find a compromise or rather common ground, a common platform because I think both sides are in agreement that there is no purpose in going to Geneva just for going to Geneva, just to spend some weeks in Geneva, it doesnt have any meaning in itself.”

“It has to be a sense that that will bring the necessary closure to all that work which has been going on for two years, including on those issues that can only be discussed in the presence of the guarantors. So thats what we are searching. I feel that both leaders would like that to happen. But they also want to be assured that it is useful. It might not work but I think I will come back to what happens, if it doesnt work then. Right now my sole focus is to help them make it work,” he concluded.

President Anastasiades told a televised press conference on Monday evening that he proposed, in the framework of his UN-led negotiations with Akinci, to go immediately to Geneva, convene a Conference on Cyprus for the completion and conclusion of the discussion on the Chapter of Security and Guarantees, then proceed immediately to the discussion and resolution of the property issue, if and when there is a conclusion, and then stay in Geneva for as long as necessary and hold a continuous summit of the leaders, in order to achieve not just substantive progress, but even the comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem as well.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37% of its territory. Anastasiades and Akinci have been engaged in UN-led talks since May 2015 with a view to reunite the island under a federal roof.