United Nations.- Analysis by Apostolos Zoupaniotis
UN is expected to start – following the conclusion of the presidential elections in Cyprus – examining ways to resume the negotiating process that officially is in a period of “reflection, since the Geneva Conference collapsed on July 6, 2017. But efforts to resume negotiations in the coming months won’t be easy, because both Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots are hardening their positions, threatening to proceed with a “plan B”.
By adapting Resolution 2389 on UNFICYP, last Tuesday, UN Security Council endorsed the approach expressed by Secretary General Antonio Guterres in his report of 28 September 2017, for his Good Offices to remain available to assist the sides, “should they jointly decide to re-engage in negotiations with the necessary political will”.
But at the same time, both Mr. Guterres and the Security Council called on both sides to “intensify work with the Technical Committees with the objective of enhancing intercommunal contacts and improving the daily lives of the Cypriots” and for the “implementation and further development of confidence-building measures”.
These calls convince diplomatic observers to believe that while efforts to resume the negotiations will continue, UN will try to revive the contacts between the two sides with CBMs.
Turkish Foreign Ministry in a statement issued following the adaption of UNFICYP Resolution brings backs positions expressed by Foreign Minister Çavuşoğlu, immediately after the closing of the Conference on Cyprus, “where he emphasized that it no longer seemed possible to reach a settlement based on the established parameters.”
The Turkish Foreign Ministry says that “any process in the coming period can only be successful if it is based on the current realities on the Island and the experience gained from the negotiations conducted during the past half century, and if it aims for suitable expectations and outcomes.”.
Diplomatic observers read behind these lines a possible short timetable, a pre-arrangement of what will happen if these negotiations also fail to reach a settlement and if there won’t be able to resume Turkey will proceed with “plan B”.
In a another negative development, it was made known on Thursday – three days before the presidential elections and a day after the final debate of the two candidates Anastasiades and Malas – that Turkish Cypriot Leader Mustafa Akinci asked from the United Nations and received back the map he has tabled on January 11, 2017, in Mont Pelerin. Both leaders have submitted their respective maps that since were safeguarded by the United Nations.
Echoing a similar statement by Antonio Guterress in his Good Offices report, Anastasiades has described – during the debates – the presentation of the maps as a first in the history of the Cyprus negotiations.
Cypriot Government Spokesman Nikos Christodoulides has said that the announcement regarding the withdrawal by the Turkish Cypriot leader of the map on the territory constitutes a clear attempt to intervene in the presidential elections, that take place in Cyprus on Sunday.
Christodoulides said that questions arise regarding the timing that T/c leader Mustafa Akinci chose to make such a statement, by justifying his action with the argument that the President of Cyprus withdrew the proposals in Crans Montana, – which is known to everyone -, including Mr Akinci, and is recorded in the documents from the 7th of July 2017, when the deliberations in Crans Montana were concluded.
So, he added, everyone must ask themselves about Mr Akinci’s intentions, only a few days before the presidential elections.
Christodoulides added that it is also a clear message to the international community, the UN Secretary-General himself and the Permanent Members of the Security Council – who, in a resolution, a few days ago, they called for a resumption of talks – about which is truly the side which does not seek the resumption of talks.
‘This is what we have been saying for so long and this is confirmed by Mr Akinci`s action’ he went on to say.
The Spokesman said that the government will contact the UN and make the necessary representations, but added that they will discuss with the UN and when there are developments they will state their position in a responsible manner.
‘We will not follow any irresponsible behavior. The management of the Cyprus problem is a very serious issue’ he pointed out.
Concluding, he said that the government was aware of Akinci’s intentions since they were informed by the UN by the end of December, but said that they did not know that there was a development towards this direction, because neither the UN had seen this positively.
Although UNFICYP spokesman changed on Friday his initial statement that was saying UN had informed the Greek Cypriot side, later on the same day in New York, Spokesman of the UN Secretary General, Stéphane Dujarric repeated Thursday’s statement.
Dujarric noted that the map put forward by the Turkish Cypriot side during the course of Geneva talks for a Cyprus settlement, in January 2017, was returned by the United Nations, upon the request of the Turkish Cypriot leader.
Replying to questions by CNA, Dujarric said that the Secretary-General’s Deputy Special Adviser in Cyprus, Elizabeth Spehar, has informed the Greek Cypriot side of this development.
He also noted that both leaders have stated their commitment to the Secretary-General’s framework as laid out in the talks that took place in the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana, in the summer of 2017.