UN chief open to new ideas

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The UN Security Council mandate for Cyprus is to secure a bizonal, bicommunal solution but the parties can present new ideas at a conference in March, said UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

“It is my intention to convene early March a meeting of the 5+1. That meeting we decided to be an informal meeting without precondition,” said Guterres.

“There are changes in the administration of northern Cyprus. It is important that there is a chance of all the people to frankly discuss among themselves how they see the future and to see how to move forward,” he added.

Guterres was asked whether he will insist on a bizonal, bicommunal federation or if he is open to new ideas.

This mandate, he noted, refers explicitly to a bizonal, bicommunal reunification.

Ersin Tatar was elected Turkish Cypriot leader on a hardline policy of seeking a two-state solution for Cyprus, rather than a federal arrangement.

“Obviously this is not an impediment for the parties to present the positions they will present.

“I am always ready to go to the SC and if there is an agreement of the parties enlarging the scope of the negotiations, to be interpreted as a common agreement in this regard.”

He pointed out that the first step is to bring the parties together; to listen to them, to see the result of that discussion.

“And the fact that Ι stick to the mandate I received doesn’t mean that I am not open to listening to everybody, to take the conclusions of that discussion based on whatever the parties come to a common view about the future.”

An UN-led informal 5+1 summit on ending the island’s decades-old division will involve guarantor powers Britain, Greece, and Turkey on the way forward for formal talks to resume.

There have been no official UN-sponsored negotiations on the island’s future since a conference in Switzerland –- also involving Britain, Greece, and Turkey – collapsed in July 2017.

Guterres is hoping to get the three governments more involved to build momentum that is currently lacking.