Cyprus Hopes Unification Talks Restart

Although Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades said he believes there’s no longer a chance of reaching a solution with Turkey, which has unlawfully occupied the northern third of the island since 1974, to reunify the island, the United Nations is going to try yet again.

While a resolution has evaded everyone for decades, Alexander Downer, UN Secretary General’s Special Advisor on Cyprus, is due back on Jan. 12 to try to get the two sides together again.

He’s hoping for a joint declaration for the resumption of direct talks although Turkish-Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu said he doesn’t want any conditions and broke off discussions with Anastasiades after one informal dinner sitting with him.

Downer is expected to also meet the negotiators of the two sides, Andreas Mavroyiannis and Osman Ertug.

A close aide to Downer has revealed that the UN envoy will stay in Cyprus for a few days and then he will depart for New York in order to brief Secretary General Ban ki-Moon, who has repeatedly said he expected an agreement only to be wrong every time.

On the same day, the UN SG’s Special Representative in Cyprus Lisa Buttenheim will brief the Security Council on UNFICYP (UN peace-keeping force in Cyprus) according to The Financial Mirror.

The latest report of the UN Secretary General, which was given to the members of the Security Council on New Year’s Eve, does not include anything about his good offices mission.

The Security Council later this month will talk about a resolution on the renewal of the UNFICYP mandate with expectations it will be approved on Jan. 29.

Downer is expected to meet with Anastasiades and Eroglu for jaw-boning diplomacy in an attempt to defuse the tension.

Anastasiades, giving in slightly, said that the logjam could be broken if the two sides agree instead of a joint communique on a “substantial, simple and significantly shorter” declaration.

In a letter sent to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on January 2, as reported by Sigmalive, he said that he has shown good will despite opposition from most of the country’s political parties.

STICK AND A CARROT

While reaching out to Eroglu, he also slammed him. “Regretfully, I have been faced with a constant effort to erode the basis of the settlement to be reached and the projection of the notion of separate sovereign states,” he said.

“If the process is to stand any chance of success, the goal posts cannot be in constant motion. It must start with a basic common understanding of where we want to go and how we can best get there,” he said, according to the Cyprus Mail.

The Greek Cypriots’ last draft proposal on a joint declaration submitted on December 18, was “tangible proof” of his resolve and determination to start the peace talks “despite the serious apprehensions and strong reservations raised by the majority of the leaders of political parties and at the expense of serious political capital,”

He added: “While I was aspiring to a meaningful negotiation in order to reunite the country, the Turkish Cypriot side was elaborating the terms of an eventual separation.”

Cyprus Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides has expressed hope that 2014 will mark the island’s reunification and rid the country of Turkish occupation troops.

Speaking during a gathering at the ministry to mark the new year, Kasoulides said that the the Turkish side should exhibit the necessary will for a lasting, viable and functional solution that will reunite the country, in accordance with UN Security Council resolutions.

Kasoulides referred to the challenges Cyprus will have to face in the new year, both at a national and international level, stressing that with determination and persistence, “We will achieve the objectives of our foreign policy”.

Cyprus was divided in 1974 when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. Previous UN led efforts to reunify the island under a federal roof have failed.

A renewed effort began in September last year, with meetings between the two negotiators of the two sides as well as a meeting between the leaders of the two communities, with the aim to finalize a joint declaration that would pave the way for the resumption of talks.

Anastasiades had hoped to get the negotiations going again after being distracted since his election last February with a growing economic crisis that forced him to seek an international bailout that came with hard austerity measures and confiscation of nearly half the amount of bank accounts over 100,000 euros, about $137,000.