The first part of the Conference on Cyprus is officially over but talks to solve the security aspects of the Cyprus problem will continue on January 18, when a technical working group will meet to tackle specific questions.
The meeting of the working group, which will be attended by UN and EU officials, guarantor powers, and the two sides in Cyprus, will pave the way for the continuation of the Conference on Cyprus, where foreign ministers will address the concerns of all parties and issued raised by the working group.
No quick fix
The newly-established UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, acknowledged that guarantor powers, the two sides in Cyprus and international actors have just started to discuss the security aspect of the Cyprus problem.
In a statement after the first session of the Conference on Cyprus held yesterday at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, and flanked by leaders Nicos Anastasiades and Mustafa Akinci, Guterres said that there has been progress in the negotiations, but made clear that “this will not be a quick fix” for the longstanding problems. He also urged all concerned not to expect miracles.
Principles and values
The participants of the Cyprus Conference starting arriving early at the Palais des Nations, the UN European headquarters in Geneva.
Last to arrive was Turkish Foreign Minister, Mevlout Cavusoglu. In addition to Anastasiades and Akinci at the table were the Foreign Minister of Greece, Nikos Kotzias, Boris Johnson of the UK, as well as the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, and the EU foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini.
Guterres spoke first, stressing the fact that any solution found has to be put to people in a referendum.
“Let’s not forget one thing: this will not be an agreement among leaders – this will be an agreement to be ratified by peoples through referenda,” he said.
He therefore urged all sides to be realistic about their positions and not to ignore international principles and values.
A similar position was put forward by Juncker, who also stressed the EU’s commitment to help with the financial aspects of a settlement.
Juncker also said the EU is an interested party as Cyprus is a full member of the Union and will remain as such after a settlement.
The main players of the Cyprus problem put forward their well known initial positions. President Anastasiades presented a 14 page document, a large part of which referred to his proposal to set up a multinational force to take over the security of a post-settlement Cyprus.
Although his proposal has been known for some time now, we understand it was well received by participants at the Conference. Some raised the prospect of Turks, Greek and British policemen taking part in the force, but there was no discussion on this.
Akinci emphasised the need for Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriot not to feel threatened by each other, while also stressing the fact that guarantees are deemed necessary by people in the north.
Greek FM Nicos Kotzias talked about scrapping guarantees and creating a new security framework in line with principals of the UN and the EU. He put forward his proposal again for a friendship accord between Greece, Cyprus and Turkey.
Turkish FM Mevlut Cavusoglu, by contrast, argued that the 1960 guarantees are the basis for security and stability in Cyprus.
Finally, Boris Johnson said that Britain simply wants to help the sides to move forward and reach a comprehensive settlement.
By Lefteris Adilinis in Geneva