Eide: An agreement is closer now than it was a few months ago

Eide: An agreement is closer now than it was a few months ago

Athens, September 12, 2016/Independent Balkan News Agency

By Spiros Sideris

At a critical juncture for Cyprus, a few days before the end of the round of negotiations and pending the joint communiqué of the two sides, the Greek Foreign Minister had a meeting on Monday, September 12 at the Greek Foreign Ministry, with the Special Adviser of the Secretary of United Nations on the Cyprus issue, Mr Espen Barth Eide.

As long, substantial and excellent described the almost three-hour discussion on the developments in the Cyprus problem he had with Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias the Special Adviser of the UN Secretary Espen Barth Eide. The main topic was the status of guarantees and the role of the guarantor powers can play in reaching an agreement.

On Tuesday, Mr Eide will meet with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.

Only Mr Eide made a statement after the meeting.

Eide: We had an excellent conversation with Foreign Minister Kotzias, my good friend and a good partner in the work that I am doing on behalf of the UN Secretary General in Cyprus. I had the pleasure of sharing with the Minister the developments that we had over the last months in the Cyprus talks which have been by far the most intense talks that we had since I started in this job a few years ago. The two leaders, President Nikos Anastasiades of the Greek-Cypriot side and the Turkish-Cypriot leader, Mr. Mustafa Akinci, see each other almost every second day and they work with dedication and a strong effort in trying to overcome the issues that are still on the table.

We have to recognize that there is still a lot of work to do. It is not a done deal which is just around the corner. But the convergences already achieved are far beyond what has ever been agreed in direct conversations between the two sides. Because, as you will know, the final version of the Annan plan was proposed by the UN. What has been very much our agreement now is that every single sentence, every word, every comma, is written by a Cypriot pen and through direct negotiations between the two sides, the Turkish-Cypriot and the Greek-Cypriot side.

The conversations are organized into six chapters and four of them are to a large extent now done; there are a couple of important outstanding issues in these chapters, but we clearly see the contours of a settlement inside these four chapters. And we have, what is new, over the last month, the last weeks actually, we have started a direct conversation in brainstorming mode also around the issue of territorial rearrangements which has been left so far, that is now on the table, and the security arrangements that will pertain to a future united federal Cyprus. This is the reason for my meeting with FM Kotzias today and with PM Tsipras tomorrow, it is that these are issues where the guarantor powers Greece, Turkey and the UK are more directly involved.

I want to commend all the guarantor powers for having been on their own initiative very careful about not intervening in those issues which the Cypriots have to solve themselves.

But of course since there are three international treaties in power, in order to change them or abolish them or build something else we need the support and cooperation between the guarantor powers as well. So, that has been very much the essence of the conversation today with FM Kotzias, and what I want to say without being able to reveal obviously all the details: it has been a meeting of minds, we have many shared perspectives both on our talks but also on the way ahead.

And we both felt that after two and a half hours, we have a joint understanding over much of what has to be done over the coming weeks and months and I feel confident that Greece is going to play its part in creating the conditions by which this tragic 42-year-old division of Cyprus can finally be overcome.

I am not unrealistic, I know that we have work to do.

I have shared with my friends, the leaders and their negotiating teams that there are important issues to be dealt with, particularly in the area of implementation of a settlement. If there is a settlement, we need to be ready to implement it and there is a particularly long list of things that we have to do but the spirit, the commitment and the drive is clearly there. My next meeting with the two leaders will be on Wednesday morning and after that all of us will be in N.Y. And of course, NY provides an opportunity for both leaders and myself and everybody else involved in the process to have bilateral meetings with relevant players, which are important for the international dimensions and the financial dimensions of the settlement.

Q: How close to a settlement are we?

E: I do not want to give a percentage. We are much closer than we were a few months ago and there is still some way to go. I see that others are putting a certain percentage. I will refrain from that. If you look at the volume of text, there is a lot of agreement, what we call ‘black’. And the reference to black is that when the proposal is Turkish-Cypriot it is written in red, when it is Greek-Cypriot it is written in blue, so when it is black it is agreed. We have more and more black text, but of course, as always in any negotiation I have ever been involved in, or have been studying or watching, some of the most difficult issues will only be solved at the very end.

Q: Will you go to Ankara after Athens?

E: Not right now but I will meet with everyone in NY.