All hopes for Cyprus talks on UN’s next move

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Any hope for a breakthrough in Cyprus peace talks depends on the outcome of United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres’ next moves, including the appointment of a new special representative.

President Nicos Anastasiades’ brief meeting with the UN Secretary General, on the sidelines of the General Assembly in New York, did not seem to change the pessimistic atmosphere prevailing in Nicosia.

On Monday, President Anastasiades is to take part in a joint meeting with the UN SG and Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar.

All eyes will now be on the dinner the UN SG will be hosting for the two leaders, where he will announce the name of the person to be appointed as his representative for the Cyprus problem.

According to press reports, Guterres told Anastasiades during their meeting on Tuesday that the only way to re-ignite the process would be through movement generated with the appointment of a new UN envoy.

The new UN SG special representative to the Cyprus problem will be replacing Elizabeth Spehar, whose term comes to a close at the end of the month. Former US diplomat Jane Holl Lute has served as UN special envoy on Cyprus since 2018, exploring prospects of finding common ground among all stakeholders for talks to resume between the two communities.

Anastasiades did not have high expectations from the get-go as he said he is not as optimistic as he would like to be because of the repeated statements by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and Tatar on a two-state solution.

He emphasised that although he is ready to attend the meeting, there are doubts about achieving a positive outcome.

“Ankara’s interventions, objections and pretexts, were used by Tatar to avoid a resumption of substantive negotiations, based on the work achieved in previous years,” he had said.

Prior to leaving for New York, President Anastasiades supported the return to the 1960 constitution, which foresaw the establishment of a unitary state with shared participation in government and public services.

 

Power sharing and veto

The constitution foresaw that a Greek Cypriot President sharing powers with a Turkish Cypriot Vice President who had veto powers over government decisions.

Anastasiades’ proposal was heavily criticised by main opposition parties, which accused the president of derailing the peace process from the basis of a bicommunal, bizonal federation, in accordance with all UN resolutions.

President Anastasiades will be presenting his positions on how the peace talks should proceed from the podium of the UN General Assembly during his speech on Friday.

At the same time, he intends to address arguments for a two-state solution put forward by Erdogan, who during his speech on Wednesday seized the opportunity to sell the idea to the UN General Assembly.

Monday’s meeting comes after efforts made in April by diplomats who had tried to make headway in resuming Cyprus talks, abandoned since a failed Swiss conference in 2017.

The April gathering in Geneva, dubbed the “UN+5”, was attended by the foreign ministers of Cyprus’ three guarantors – Greece, Turkey, and Britain.

That also had a negative outcome after Guterres declared not enough common ground had been secured.