United Nations.- By Apostolos Zoupaniotis
Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci were expected meet on Sunday December 20, for the last time in 2015, in the context of the ongoing UN-led peace talks. Prior to the meeting, the two will visit the anthropological laboratory of the Committee on Missing Persons located in the United Nations Protected Area.
One of the topics to be discussed was the way ahead and the schedule of the January meetings. According to diplomatic sources, Special Advisor Eied is trying to convince the parties, including the guarantor powers, to attend the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum, which will take place in Davos, between January 20-23. His hope is to have an informal multilateral meeting that will give an idea to everyone where they stand on issues like the guarantees and the presence of foreign troops after the solution.
A governments source confirmed that President Anastasiades has received an invitation, but he hasn’t make up his mind yet, whether to attend.
Greek Cypriot side has stated many times in the past that it will take part in such a meeting when the negotiations are close to an agreement. Right now, both publicly and private, Cyprus government says there are many open chapters and in some of the most important issues there is a gap.
On the other hand, both UN officials and Secretary of State John Kerry are trying to paint a positive picture.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said on Wednesday that he is encouraged by the progress in the negotiations on the Cyprus problem, adding that a solution is within reach. Ban was speaking during his end of the year press conference at the UN Headquarters. “I am encouraged by progress in the negotiations on Cyprus. A solution to decades of division is within reach,” Ban said.
According to CNA, On November 25, delivering a statement on behalf of the two leaders, UN Secretary General`s special adviser on Cyprus Espen Barth Eide said the leaders had made further progress and had achieved a better understanding of each other’s concerns. They felt more hopeful and confident that the outstanding issues could be resolved in the near future in the course of their negotiations.
Negotiators of the two sides have been meeting on a nearly daily basis in order to discuss and to prepare the leaders’ meetings.
President Anastasiades, in his statements after the meeting, said that he is not giving up hope to see the peace talks succeed, but stressed that the same good needs to be shown by both sides.
“I am not abandoning hope for a successful outcome of our efforts, as long as there is the same good intention from both sides,” he added.
He pointed out that so far the intention to achieve convergence of views is there, noting at the same time that there are also difficulties.
“I hope that we will overcome those difficulties through understanding the concerns of each of the two communities”, he said.
The report of the Secretary General on UNFICYP is expected to go to the members of the UN Security Council either by the end of December, or during the first 4 days of the new year. Following the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos, Espen Barth Eide (who is the Forum’s managing director) will come to the UN headquarters in New York, to brief the members of the Security Council, on the development on the Cyprus negotiations. Special representative will brief the Council on UNFICYP. The informal consultations will take place on January 25. The mandate of UNFICYP expires on January 31.
IMF, World Bank count cost
CNA reports that a World Bank and International Monetary Fund joint team left Cyprus on Friday after a week of “substantial work” focusing on the economic sustainability of the divided island’s possible reunification.
“What Nicosia wants is an assessment of the economic viability of an overall Cyprus settlement; what it actually means to have a unified functional economy from day one in federal Cyprus,” an insider told the Cyprus Weekly.
“The IMF-World Bank approach is very positive, the team is made up of about 10 members, technical experts from IMF will focus on macro-economics and those of the World Bank on micro-economics,” added the insider. The technocrats have held a number of meetings this week with the two chief negotiators in the UN-brokered Cyprus peace talks.
“The missions have been granted permission to get all necessary data from banks in the breakaway north since no one really knows what the state of play is there, no-one seems to know the exact debt of the north either,” said the insider.
In its September staff report for Cyprus, the IMF referred to prospects for a solution to the Cyprus problem and the reunification of the Mediterranean island.
The Fund also pointed out that “while it is too early to assess how the process will unfold or its implications for policies, reunification could boost investment and trade in Cyprus, benefiting long-term economic growth.”
The financial system in Cyprus is now stable and with positive prospects following the banking sector’s collapse in March 2013, but remains fragile and has significant challenges remaining.
Sources close to the Presidential Palace believe that after the shocking ‘haircut’ on unsecured deposits in a bid to bailout the island’s bankrupt lenders, Cypriots are twice as cautious about the anticipated cost of reunification.
And the message sent out is that President Nicos Anastasiades will never agree to an overall settlement that won’t guarantee the financial viability – short-term and long-term – of the country.
“It’s not just the cost of property compensation or property exchange and all that.
“The big picture is that the reunified state should be economically functional; that the two federal states won’t compete against each other but rather work together,” a source said.
The same source estimated the cost of reunification to be roughly around €20 billion and said that neither the EU nor the US have committed themselves to specific financial assistance towards Cyprus. But they send out encouraging messages.