The UN Secretary General’s special adviser on Cyprus, Espen Barth Eide met with Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias on Wednesday in Athens. The meeting took place prior to the talks on Cyprus to be held in Geneva on the 9, 10, 11 January.
Mr Eide stated that the “sense of seriousness and the importance of this goes much beyond the size of Cyprus itself in international relations stating that the possibilities for a Cyprus solution “are higher than they ever were”.” The Greek Foreign Minister reiterated that “we support Cyprus and support the position for the removal of guarantees.”
Following the meeting Mr Eide stated that the discussion between himself and the Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias was “very stimulating and creative” adding that “we have the strong feeling that if it was only up to the Cypriots now, this problem will be solved”.
Eide explained that “the key questions that are outstanding are those pertaining to security and guarantees. And this will be the main focus of the conference next week, in Geneva. It is open-ended, in the sense that it starts on the twelfth. We have deliberately not said when it ends, because we need to take the time we need. But we go there with the ambition of finding solutions, or at least a framework for a solution, that can bring us to a final settlement”.
He clarified the fact that the talks in Geneva would not be easy “that a lot of work has to be done to reconcile the established opening positions, which have been for many years” but added that he feels that “in all quarters, here and in Turkey, in the UK, on the island, there is a will to think outside of the box and look for solutions”.
According to the UN Secretary General’s special adviser on Cyprus “the possibilities [sic. for a solution] are higher than they ever were”.
More specifically Eide stated that “while it will be difficult, I don’t think it has ever looked better than it does right now, and the more I work on this, the more I get the reconfirmation of that sense. Because I think the other key players that are involved, they may have their differences on many issues, but they all seem to think that a solution to the Cyprus problem is better for whatever broader agendas they have than the opposite of a solution. And I think that the choice now is very much about using this opportunity or losing it”.
Eide did not however hide the fact that this might be a last chance for all sides to solve the Cyprus problem. As he said, “We are, of course, only planning for success, but I think we have to be frank about the fact that the inability to solve it this time will not mean that we have another chance in three months or six months or one year or five years. We don’t know”.
He, however called this moment an opportunity and encouraged everybody “to use that opportunity now”.
Even though he made it quite clear that his principal interest is to help Cyprus to reunify itself he highlighted the fact that Cyprus coming together in a “volatile region” will send a signal to the entire are. “The story of people coming together again and rebuilding a togetherness, one state in one island, will send a signal way beyond, to the Middle East, to Europe, that fragmentation is not the only option, that reunification and coming together is also an option in a very difficult and volatile world”, he said.
In answer to a journalist’s question concerning the Tsipras – Erdogan meeting Mr Eide stated that he has argued in favour of such a meeting and that “it would be good for them to meet at the highest level”. Eide stated that he is certain that both Tsipras and Erdogan will be in Geneva.
During the press conference Eide also stated that apart from the Security Council the EU could also be present at the talks in Geneva as well as other international financial institutions. He highlighted how important the presence of the Security Council is because of the “need to endorse and support and think about the future of a UN presence in the case of a success in Geneva.”
Concerning the talks in Geneva on his part the Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias stated that “the Greek Foreign Ministry’s and the Greek government’s obligation is to be prepared for all eventualities and to have the ability to present alternative solutions”.
The Greek Foreign Minister also stated that “we support Cyprus and support the position for the removal of guarantees, of interventional rights of any country within Cyprus, and in favour of the removal of the occupation army”.
Kotzias stressed that “there is no chance that the negotiations would fail. What could happen is for them to be postponed or delayed” adding that “failure means that a negotiation ends without results. We have received assurances from the UN that the negotiation will be what we call open-ended, meaning that it will be a negotiation, which even if it stops it will not be considered collapsed, but it will be able to continue better prepared in the future”.
When asked if the British Prime – Minister Theresa May will attend the Geneva Conference, Kotzias stated that he would know for certain following his meeting with the Minister for European and American Affairs of the United Kingdom, Sir Alan Duncan, on Thursday. Finally Kotzias announced that he will meet with the British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson between his trips to Geneva and New York..IBNA