Nicos Christodoulides on the new effort to start negotiations: We do not have the luxury of failure

Nicos Christodoulides on the new effort to start negotiations: We do not have the luxury of failure

The Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Cyprus, Nicos Christodoulides, spoke on Cyprus’ national television (RIK), regarding the renewal of UNFICYP’s mandate, the expectations of Lute’s contacts for the resumption of talks on the Cyprus issue and for the opening of the Deryneia checkpoint.

Asked to comment whether it is true that this time the renewal of UNIFICYP was not a formal process, the FM said that “indeed it was not a typical process for two main reasons. We had an increased effort on the part of Turkey to raise problems with the issue of the renewal of the peacekeeping force and/or its mandate. There is also the well-known new US approach to peacekeeping missions, which are not approached positively or in general within the context that are approached by the United Nations. I mention that so far there have been three peacekeeping missions that have been altered, either regarding their potential or in terms of their mandate, precisely because of this new American approach. But because this new American approach was known, Turkey tried to exploit it.

Just because these two issues existed, extensive discussions took place at the level of fifteen of the UN Security Council, in particular at the level of permanent members of the UN Security Council. There was involvement and intervention by the UN Secretary-General himself, and we also saw personal interest overcoming the issue of the peacekeeping force. We saw increased/enhanced interest in the prospect of a solution to the Cyprus problem. We therefore believe that the UN Secretary-General’s approach is important and recorded.

Also of importance was the approach of the remaining permanent members of the UN Security Council in this American approach, which is not Cyprus-central. More generally, it concerns the United Nations and peacekeeping missions in general. Beyond that, the debate on the issue of the renewal of the peacekeeping force clearly shows an increased interest in the Cyprus issue. This interest from the Secretary-General of the UN is translated into Ms Lute’s mission and the increased interest shown by the permanent members of the UN Security Council. Considering all the facts – that we come from an effort where we came very close to a solution, an effort that for the first time led to significant results, the recommendations of the United Nations, the passage of time that affects the facts for the solution of the Cyprus problem, shows that we are at a critical stage, possibly the most critical, in relation to the history of the negotiations for a solution to the Cyprus problem.

The previous effort, culminating in the meeting at Crans-Montana, was the first time in the history of the negotiations that we have come so close to a solution to the Cyprus problem. It was the first time we discussed the issue of security and guarantees and we exchanged maps on an agreed basis and other things that were done for the first time and that’s why we got so close. We believe that we must now make use of all these facts, because their non-utilization also removes the possibility of a solution to the Cyprus problem. At the same time, we have a UN Secretary-General who shows his interest in his intervention on the issue of the peacekeeping force, Mrs Lute’s mission and the messages she sends on all sides. We expect the next few days that Ms Lute’s meetings with the guarantors will continue and will be completed in the first half of September with Ms Mogherini in Brussels. All this creates a state of things that is important and critical. But the most important thing for us is to bring very concrete positive results. In the first 15 days of September Ms Lute’s mission will be completed, in order to inform the Secretary-General of the UN. The update will be made after all these meetings have been completed”.

The first important milestone, according to Christodoulides, is Lute’s briefing to the UN Secretary-General of the results of her contacts, which will be the basis on the subsequent course that will be followed.

“We sincerely hope that there will be such results to help continue from where we left off in Crans-Montana. It is very important. It has also been publicly expressed by the President of the Republic that we are not the problem. We expect the President of the Republic to inform the political Leaders. This interest comes from the UN Secretary-General, but at the same time the UN Secretary-General wants to start a new effort that has real prospect of success. The difference is that this time we know very precisely in which issues there are disagreements, different approaches. Here we have also called for more active engagement on the part of the European Union, because it can provide answers to these issues that are currently in dispute. The European Union can strengthen the UN Secretary General’s effort to provide answers that will benefit the entire Cypriot people. There is no mood or approach to obtain decisions, eg. for the benefit of the Greek Cypriots, to the detriment of the Turkish Cypriots. That is why I mentioned the meeting in Brussels, which is crucial”.

Asked what will happen if this effort fails, the foreign minister said that the government has a positive outlook in the process and focuses on its success, as “we do not have the luxury of failure. In the international community, we want more than anything else to resolve the Cyprus problem. We, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, are experiencing the consequences of this state of affairs we see today. This situation can by no means be a solution. That is why we say that this is the time of truth. Everyone has to be placed responsibly and we are hoping for such results to lead us to a positive result”.

With regard to the Deryneia roadblock, Christodoulides explained that “there was a readiness to open since July 1. There is no development at this moment of time, and given the information we have before us, I see no progress. The most important measure of confidence building at the moment we are speaking is the resumption of talks from where they stopped in Crans-Montana. This will be the most important confidence-building measure that will affect at the same time everything you mention. Inevitably, the non-existence of a procedure also affects these issues and it does not affect them positively”.

Finally, responding to a relevant question, Christodoulides said he expects the next UN Secretary-General’s report, which will inform of Lute’s mission, to be submitted by October 15./IBNA