UN top envoy briefs UNCS on Cyprus settlement talks

UN top envoy briefs UNCS on Cyprus settlement talks

There is a historic opportunity to achieve a settlement to the Cyprus problem, UN Security Council members said on Friday after a briefing by the UN General Secretary Special Adviser on the Cyprus problem Espen Barth Eide in New York on the reports on UN SG Good Offices Mission and UNFICYP.

After the two-hour long consultations and a briefing both from Mr Eide and UN Special Representative in Cyprus Lisa Buttenheim, UN SC members express readiness to support the UN-sponsored negotiating process.

Speaking to the press, Eide described the discussions as very good.

“We were emphasizing the progress made in Cyprus and the vision and courage of the two leaders in this process but we were also making the point to the Council that while much has been achieved there is also a long way to go. And we really want the United Nations at its highest level to be aware that a lot of hard works still remains, that the two leaders need encouragement and support and we talked about concrete ways where the international community can be supportive while we also strongly underlined the importance of letting this remain a leader-led process,” he said.

The Norwegian diplomat said he discussed with UN SC members certain ways with which the international community could be supportive, adding that it was strongly underlined that the process should be left under the guidance of the two leaders.
“The process belongs to the Cypriots and is under the ownership of the elected leaders and they should determine the negotiating structure,” he said, adding in this way we could arrive at a Cypriot solution.

Eide stressed that in certain negotiating rounds the progress was pretty significant compared to previous rounds but “the last part is always the most difficult one.”

“You may have achieved 90% but the 10% that is remaining is not the easy one, is the difficult one,” he added, noting “so I think is important for all of us to recognize that the weeks and months ahead will be about dealing with some of these essential core questions that remain unresolved. Unresolved not because it hasn’t been an attempt to tackle them but because they are difficult or their starting positions of both communities are quite different on these questions.”

Eide said he emphasized the importance of regional support and that all relevant international stake holders, including the guarantors (Greece, Turkey and the UK) play their role and he said he is very happy for the support expressed in UN SC on the courageous work by the two leaders.

“Fifteen out of the fifteen members of the Security Council, all the permanent five members all the ten elected members, all of them took the floor and every single one praised the work that is going on and the general sense was that this is a historic opportunity that has to be grasped, it has to be grasped in such a way that it can be genuinely owned by the leaders who are in charge of the talks, Eide said.

Replying to questions, Eide said there is interest on behalf of the UN SC on its role in case of a settlement.

“If we have a settlement there will be a role for the UN,” he said, adding that “the leaders said very clearly that they expect the UN to have a role. The UNSC will be called “on to define the parametres of a future UN mission.”

“I don’t want to create the impression that it is just around the corner,” he said.

He noted that is “because some of the essential issues for both communities have still to be finally tackled. Some of them are domestic or pertaining to Cyprus, elements of a territorial readjustment for instance, and then of course there are the issues of security and guarantees where on top of the exchange that we have on these issues with the leaders we are of course also, as we shall be and it’s to our mandate, in charge with the three guarantors states and all the interested countries and the Security Council on this security arrangement,” he said.

Replying to a question on the meetings in Davos, Eide said so far the two leaders will meet with the Secretary – General and him to take stock and to organise the next steps.

Eide denied that there will be “some kind of secret back channels going on”, noting that “there are no such plans but a lot of people would be in the same place and that’s the nature of the undertaking.”

On her part, Buttenheim said she received the UNSC`s unanimous support on the work of UNFICYP.

She added that she briefed the UNSC on de-mining and the confidence building measures which assist the good climate in the settlement talks.