Both leaders very strongly said that they are committed to this process and that nobody sees this process as over or terminated or suspended, UNSG Special Envoy for Cyprus Espen Barth Eide has said.
Speaking to the press on Thursday evening, following a meeting he had with President Anastasiades, Eide said that the next meeting between the two leaders is set to take place as scheduled, there have not been any cancellations and if there is a change, there will be announcements in due time.
The meeting took place following today’s meeting of the two leaders, from which Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci walked away shortly after. As it was announced, the two leaders elaborated on their positions as regards a decision taken by the Cypriot Parliament last Friday to commemorate the 1950 Enosis Referendum in schools.
President Anastasiades had earlier called on Akinci to return to the negotiating table, saying that his concerns are not justified.
In his statements to the press tonight, Eide said that the meeting between the leaders was not a very happy one, recalling that yesterday he had said that the mood surrounding the talks is not optimal.
“I was hoping, the leaders and I were both hoping, that we would use the meeting today to clear the air and that was also the shared intention of all of us, to clear the air of the recent developments not in the talks, but surrounding the talks, including the issue of the decision of the parliament that has been very much in focus lately, but also of the general mood that has been deteriorating outside the talks’’, Eide said.
He added that this genuine intention didn’t fully work, not yet, and the meeting ended abruptly.
He added that the meeting was quite emotional for all participants and that as Akinci himself has said, ‘’he left this meeting’’.
Eide pointed out that the most important thing right now is to move forward, saying that there will be many attempts to derail the process from people outside the process who do not want reunification or they don’t want reunification with these terms and they want the process to fail.
‘’Actually both views are legitimate, its a democratic society and people are free to be in favour or against reunification , there is nothing particularly illegal, but is a reality and as the talks move forward the people who want them to fail they will become more active, the people who want this to fail will try to lay out some bait in order to attract people to move away from a constructive process and to try to engage in some blame game or in some kind of discussion between the two leaders”, he added.
UN Envoy added that both Anastasiades and Akinci would like of this island to be reunified and they have a shared vision which they are trying to achieve.
He said that at the end of the day all Cypriots will have a vote at the referendum, to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’, however we should be aware of the systematic attempts to raise issues and to make it more difficult for the leaders to actually concentrate on what they want to do, which is to discuss the final open chapters.
Invited to comment on whether a parliamentary decision is part of the peace talks, he said that the point is that any development contributes to the surrounding climate, and makes it either better or worse.
“So you cannot pretend that the talks are living in a vacuum, isolated from all the other issues, that the leaders will not be engaged in all the political processes and that they are in a box discussing for themselves”, he added.
He said that he discussed the issue earlier on the phone with UNSG Antonio Guterres, who told him that communities have feelings and they have long memories, “they actually remember longer than people do”.
“And it the Greek Cypriot community and in the Turkish Cypriot community people remember a number of bad things happening to them by the others and they might be aware that they actually did things to the other side, but they emphasise the things that happened against them , and when some of these issues are evoked, emotions stir up”, he said.
Asked if the next meeting between the leaders will take place as scheduled, Eide said that there have not been any cancellations as of now, no change to the program and if there will be, the UN will announce it in due time.
The Republic of Cyprus has been divided since 1974. Anastasiades and Akinci have been engaged in UN-led talks since May 2015 with a view to reunite the island under a federal roof.