Eide: Cyprus problem would have been solved by now if it were only up to the Cypriots

Eide: Cyprus problem would have been solved by now if it were only up to the Cypriots

The UNSG Special Adviser on Cyprus Espen Barth Eide said on Wednesday that the Cyprus problem would have been solved by now, if it were up to the Cypriots only.

The Special Adviser, who met today in Athens with Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias, described their conversation as very stimulating and creative.

Speaking to the press, he expressed the strong feeling that “if it was only up to the Cypriots now, this problem will be solved.”

He noted that the key questions that are outstanding are those pertaining to security and guarantees, that will be the main focus of the conference next week, in Geneva.

Eide said that the conference will be open-ended and that they go there with the ambition of finding solutions, or at least a framework for a solution, that will lead to a final settlement.

“It is not going to be easy” he said, noting however that “in all quarters, here and in Turkey, in the UK, on the island, there is a will to think outside of the box and look for solutions”.

“So I think that the possibilities are higher than they ever were. So, while it will be difficult, I don’t think it has ever looked better than it does right now, and the more I work on this, the more I get the reconfirmation of that sense. Because I think the other key players that are involved, they may have their differences on many issues, but they all seem to think that a solution to the Cyprus problem is better for whatever broader agendas they have than the opposite of a solution. And I think that the choice now is very much about using this opportunity or losing it”.

The Special Adviser to the Secretary General of the UN said that the inability to solve the Cyprus problem this time will not mean that there will be another chance in the future and encouraged everybody “to use that opportunity now”.

Eide reiterated that he is in favour of a meeting between Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Turkish President Recep Tayip Erdogan.

Replying to a question, he said that Tsipras and Erdogan will be present in Geneva, as well as the members of the Security Council.

“There is agreement that consultations can be held with all the players, which would include the Security Council” he said, adding that the EU and international financial institutions could also be present.

The Special Adviser noted that the Security Council will play a very important role as it will “need to endorse and support and think about the future of UN presence in the case of a success in Geneva”.

According to Eide, the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres will be in Geneva when the international conference starts, on the 12th of January.

He said that the talks in Geneva could last more than a few days, if needed, “but we go there with the ambition of solving it now, and then we will see how things develop when we are there”.

“Of course my preference would be for a very good solution that came quickly. But, if I have to choose, I want the solution to be good and owned by all players, and if that takes more than a few days, we will give it more than a few days. But we go there with the ambition of solving it now, and then we will see how things develop when we are there. Sometimes people can be positively surprised, and maybe things come up, when the key players are there, that we have not been able to fully achieve in the preparations. So that is exactly why we need an international conference at this stage,” he told the press.

Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci are about to meet in Geneva Switzerland on January 9-11 in the context of the UN-sponsored talks to discuss all outstanding issues for a Cyprus settlement and exchange maps. On January 12 a conference on Cyprus will be convened in the presence of the guarantor powers (Greece, Turkey and the UK) and other relevant parties as needed to discuss the issue of guarantees and security.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied its northern third. President Anastasiades and Mustafa Akinci have been engaged in UN-backed talks since May 2015 with a view to reunify the island under a federal roof.

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