The UN considers the EU to be an important partner in the Cyprus issue, the UNSG’s Special Representative in Cyprus, Colin Stewart, said on Monday after a meeting he had with Cyprus President, Nikos Christodoulides.
On his part, Government Spokesman, Konstantinos Letymbiotis, said that Nicosia welcomes the fact that the UN assesses the EU as an important partner in the effort for a Cyprus settlement, adding that Christodoulides told Stewart once again that “we are already at the negotiating table, and we call on our Turkish Cypriot compatriots and Turkey to come back to the negotiating table for a viable solution to the Cyprus problem, on the basis of a bizonal, bicommunal federation.”
In his statements, Stewart said that he had a very good meeting with Christodoulides. “We spoke about what we can do to move things forward on the Cyprus problem. We both see an opportunity in the coming months once this period of elections is over in the region and we both agreed that we want to do everything possible to substantially move things forward,” he added.
Asked about the meetings he had recently with EU officials in Brussels, Stewart said that this was basically a familiarization visit. “It was my first trip to Brussels”, he added, noting that he met with a range of people to introduce himself and to hear from them. “But certainly, there is a lot of support in Brussels for this idea that the moment is arriving when we need to make another push,” Stewart said.
He noted that he told the EU officials that the UN considers the EU to be an important partner in the Cyprus issue. “We work closely together on confidence building measures on the ground and as in the past the EU has always provided important political and technical support,” the UN diplomat added. However, he said, “as we know any participating in any mediation process, in any talks, requires consensus from all concerned.”
Asked if the UN is in favour of Christodoulides’ proposal for a more active involvement of the EU in efforts to achieve a breakthrough with a view to reach a Cyprus settlement, Stewart said that “we didn’t really discuss it in any detail and officially the UN doesn’t have a view on what might be arranged between Mr. Christodoulides and the EU. The EU’s involvement in the process is for us an important thing and we’ve always supported them.”
On his part, in his statements after the meeting, the Government Spokesman, said that Stewart informed Christodoulides about the meetings that he had in Brussels, while Christodoulides briefed the UN diplomat about his recent meeting with the French President, Emmanuel Macron, in Paris, and his forthcoming visit to Berlin, for a meeting with German Chancellor, Olaf Scholz.
“We welcome with satisfaction the fact that the UN assesses the EU as an important partner in the effort for a Cyprus settlement,” Letymbiotis added.
He went on to say that it is in this framework that President Christodoulides has put forward his proposal for a more active participation and more substantive involvement of the EU in efforts to lift the deadlock in the Cyprus question.
According to Letymbiotis, President Christodoulides continues his meetings and his diplomatic effort with EU member states leaders so that it will be able for this proposal to be implemented the soonest possible, and they use this valuable time in view of the elections in Turkey and in Greece, “so that negotiations can resume the soonest possible.”
Asked if Stewart expressed any views on developments in the fenced off city of Famagusta (Varosha) the Government Spokesman said that Christodoulides expressed his concern on the issue and the position that Turkey must not act in any way that could deteriorate the positive climate which President Christodoulides has been trying to create since he took over his post, and that has been promoted during the last period, adding that this is an issue which the UN follows closely.
Invited to say if Stewart has any ideas for the two sides to get to meet each other, Letymbiots noted that they exchanged ideas on this, that President Christodoulides reiterated his will to have a social meeting with the Turkish Cypriot leader and that the UN diplomat has some views on this.
“What the President conveyed is that he is ready for such a meeting and his intention is to promote a positive climate,” Letymbiotis added.
Asked when such a meeting may take place, the spokesman said that they are waiting to see what will happen on this, adding that some discussions have taken place and once there is something new and Tatar responds positively then it will be announced.
Asked if Stewart said in which way the UN will move forward after the elections in Greece and if the UNSG will send an envoy again or if an envoy will be appointed, the spokesman noted that there are currently elections in Greece and in Turkey which create tangible timeframes.
“On our part we have conveyed our fully readiness for the resumption of the negotiations. We consider that the appointment of a special envoy will be something that will contribute to promoting the developments that we are seeking to create,” he added.
Asked if the government has any indications that there could be a change in the Turkish foreign policy on the Cyprus problem pending on the results of the elections in Turkey, Letymbiots said that the last decades have shown us that Turkey’s stance particularly vis-à-vis the Cyprus question does not change according to who holds the leadership of the country.
He added that Nicosia wants until the conclusion of the elections in Turkey to create the conditions that will show Turkey and Turkish Cypriots that the settlement of the Cyprus problem will be to the benefit of everyone. He added that it is in this framework that President Christodoulides made his proposal for a more active involvement of the EU to efforts for a Cyprus settlement, adding that the Union’s more active engagement can and must be a catalyst towards this direction.
Letymbiots stressed that “therefore our efforts are directed until the conclusion of the elections in Turkey towards the implementation of the President’s proposal,” adding that “we as well as those to whom the President had the chance to present his proposal consider that its benefits are very important and will contribute in a positive way to this effort.”
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. Repeated rounds of UN-led peace talks have so far failed to yield results. The latest round of negotiations, in July 2017 at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana ended inconclusively.