Cyprus talks: ‘There will no longer be a prolonged process’
UNSG Antonio Guterres (C) sits with Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades (L) and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akıncı (R) during an informal meeting in Berlin.
UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres on Nov. 25 called for re-starting talks between Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot leaders in a bid to overcome decades-old dispute between the two communities.
Guterres issued a statement calling for "negotiations at the earliest feasible opportunity" after dining with Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akıncı and Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades in Berlin, Germany.
Guterres described a “focused and frank” conversation “toward reaching a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem” in the first trilateral meeting between the three statesmen since UN-led peace talks fell apart two years ago in Switzerland.
“Both leaders welcomed my engagement and reaffirmed to me their commitment and determination to achieve a settlement based on a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation with political equality as set out in the relevant Security Council resolutions,” Guterres said in a statement.
The world's top diplomat outlined the “possibility to convene an informal five-plus-UN meeting at an appropriate stage”, referencing talks between the Cypriot leaders and guarantor powers Turkey, Greece and the United Kingdom.
“The Turkish Cypriot leader and the Greek Cypriot leader, motivated by a sense of urgency, agreed that achieving a comprehensive and durable settlement to the Cyprus problem within a foreseeable horizon is of utmost importance to the future well-being of both communities and that the status quo is unsustainable,” said Guterres.
Akıncı welcomes the outcome of the meeting
Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akıncı welcomed the agreement to revive Cyprus settlement talks.
Speaking to reporters in Berlin, Akıncı said he had a positive trilateral meeting with Guterres and Anastasiades.
“I believe that today's meeting has been a positive step forward. We have managed to get the train back on track,” he said.
Akıncı underlined the importance of Guterres' pledge to increase his efforts and facilitate the beginning of negotiations at the earliest feasible opportunity.
“We are not talking about an open-ended process anymore,” Akıncı said, adding the talks would be phased, meaningful and results-oriented and aimed at reaching a strategic agreement.
He also expressed hope that a five-party Cyprus conference involving guarantor powers Turkey, Greece and the U.K. would convene in 2020 and pave the way for a settlement.
Anastasiades: First positive step to restart the dialogue
After the meeting, Anastasiades spoke of a “creative consultation effort” throughout the day on behalf of the negotiators and UN special envoy Jane Holl Lute that led, with the consent of Guterres and the two leaders, to the elements included in the joint announcement issued by the UN.
“Despite the known difficulties the result of today’s meeting is deemed as a first positive step in the effort to restart the dialogue,” Anastasiades said, according to reports published in Greek Cypriot media.
He said it was important that the UN Secretary-General reiterated his determination to continue, in cooperation with the two leaders and the guarantors, making the effort for an informal five-party meeting.
“A meeting, whose task would be the agreement on the terms of reference that will allow the repetition of a targeted and creative dialogue that will lead us to a viable and functional solution,” he added.
The informal meeting between Akıncı, Guterres and Anastasiades was the first trilateral meeting between the three leaders since UN-led talks collapsed two years ago in Switzerland.
The Cyprus problem has remained unresolved for decades despite a series of efforts by the United Nations, while recent tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean have further complicated the problem.
Turkish Cyprus disputes the Greek Cypriot administration's claim to be the sole legitimate government of the whole of Cyprus, while the Greek Cypriots oppose recognizing the political equality of the Turkish Cypriots.
The island has been divided into a Turkish Cypriot government in the northern third and Greek Cypriot administration in the south since a 1974 military coup aimed at Cyprus' annexation by Greece.
Turkey's military intervention as a guarantor power in 1974 had stopped years-long persecution and violence against Turkish Cypriots by ultra-nationalist Greek Cypriots.