UN Cyprus envoy Espen Barth Eide says the time has come for brave decisions following the recent trilateral meeting in New York between President Mustafa Akinci, Greek Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades, and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
“Leadership is needed from now on, the support is there, the international donors are there, the US are desperate to see a Cyprus solution,” Eide said in an interview on Monday.
“You have guarantor powers that have bigger fish to fry and would like to see this problem solved on the negotiating table, and have been communicating this lately, so more than even before it is in the hands of Cypriots,” he added.
But Eide, under whose guidance the UN-brokered Cyprus peace process is over the past 16 months, also knows that the remaining road towards the island’s reunification is covered with thorns.
“My experience is that (negotiations) are like a marriage, if you want to quarrel there is no issue small enough, it’s not really the size of the problem it is the size of the will,” he said.
“But having said that of course the real issues, the final issues affect the people, it is their lives that will get affected, people have to feel secure at both sides (of the divide), security concerns have to be met,” he added.
Eide also said that – overall – he is happy with the outcome of the meetings and behind the scenes activity on the Cyprus problem.
And he noted that they had “a lot of focus” and that the two parties are now a lot more prepared for the weeks to come. “From the beginning of October the speed will pick up,” he also said.
“The determination to see a solution is still there and there is recognition that the guarantors (Greece, Turkey and Britain) will get involved at one point,” he added.
There is an agreement that there are still a few political issues still standing which are of strategic importance, he said.
But that number is in a single digit, they are all known and both the leaders and the UN envoy believe these chapters could be closed in a short time.
With the only one exception being that which includes the rotating presidency.
“I would be happy if they solved it, but if they want to leave it open I can do that but I cannot see any reason, any reason, why other chapters should be left open,” Eide said.