Responsibility for finding a Cyprus solution lies first and foremost with the Cypriots themselves, not outsiders, said EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell in his blog post after visiting the island.
He said Brussels extends its full support for the upcoming Cyprus talks in Geneva next month.
“The sooner the EU becomes fully involved in the renewed settlement talks, the better,” said Borrell
“The Cyprus problem is clearly an EU problem. Cyprus is a member state of the Union, now and after reunification; regional stability and prosperity in the Eastern Mediterranean are closely bound to a solution to the Cyprus problem.”
“We are at a crucial point: UN Secretary-General Guterres will convene an informal meeting in Geneva on 27-29 April in the hope of finding common ground to negotiate a lasting solution to this issue.”
Borrell visited the island last week for contacts with the Cypriot leaders and was briefed by the UN mission in Cyprus.
“No peacekeepers nor citizens’ lives have been lost in Cyprus for years now.
“Nonetheless, it is a sobering reality that, with currently 802 soldiers on the ground, UNFICYP is one of the oldest of all UN peacekeeping missions: it operates on the island since 1964, 57 years later, the Cyprus problem remains one of the most difficult and longstanding conflicts in Europe.”
He said the present attempt to relaunch peace negotiations is not starting from “scratch”. “We can build upon a legal framework and convergences from past negotiations.”
“The solution to the Cyprus issue cannot come from outside.”
“The responsibility for finding a solution lies first and foremost with the Cypriots themselves.”
“We know it is going to be a complex process, but during my meetings, I was encouraged by the readiness of both President Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Tatar to engage with the UN to find common ground on the way forward.”
“I felt a positive determination to return to talks and seek a solution.”
“The EU stands ready to provide whatever assistance both leaders and the UN would find most useful.”
Borrell said Turkish Cypriots are also EU citizens and that EU membership is for the benefit of all Cypriots.
He said EU direct aid had reflected this: since 2006, the EU has spent €600 mln in aid for the Turkish Cypriot community; 1600 young Turkish Cypriots have received scholarships to study in the EU; the EU has helped to broker GSM network connectivity between the two Cypriot communities; cultural heritage in the Turkish Cypriot community has been restored with EU funds, and there are many more examples.
“The Cyprus issue also matters for the broader relations between Turkey and the European Union.”
“These relations are equally approaching a turning point after a particularly difficult year 2020: the relative calm that we are currently experiencing at sea in the Eastern Mediterranean and on settlement-related issues is tenuous.
“Progress in the Cyprus talks is more important than ever before…it is crucial for regional stability and overall world peace.”