UN Secretary-General’s Special Advisor on Cyprus Espen Barth Eide has said that there are a few outstanding issues to be resolved in the Cyprus negotiations, however they are significant.
Eide who held a second meeting with Greek Foreign Minister Nicos Kotsias in New York said “The reason is because we are in a very dynamic process. Greece is playing a constructive role and is very supportive of the attempts we are now making to prepare for a solution in Cyprus; even on those issues that concern neighbouring states, the guarantor powers.”
He said that he would be holding a second meeting with Turkish FM Mevlut Cavusoglu who said that it is essential to prepare the ground for a potential federal state.
“It is a constructive dialogue in progress. I met with Turkish Foreign Minister Cavusoglu, on Sunday here in New York and I will meet with him again. I am basically talking to the relevant parties, to see how we can prepare for the time when these issues will be the centre of attention”, Eide said.
He noted that, meanwhile, both Cypriot community leaders, Nicos Anastasiades and Mustafa Akinci, “are working hard to overcome the outstanding issues in those chapters of the talks which pertain to Cyprus and which can only be solved by Cypriots. This is a kind of a parallel track in preparations for the time that the guarantors have to be involved. If we want to change the current security set-up, it will require the contribution and dialogue with Turkey, Greece, and the United Kingdom”.
Eide said there was a need for realism and that the job was not yet done. “We also have to think about what we do if we actually achieve a solution. What will really be a tragic, is if there is a political agreement and no preparations in place,” he said.
“We want the whole island to apply the EU acquis communautaire. This has been politically agreed, without any disagreements, but it has to be done. We want the whole island to use the Euro, again, politically agreed without reservations but it takes preparation. We need to have a federal police force and again, although politically agreed without disagreements, it’s not there”.
Reiterating that the UN is “encouraged by the progress in the talks, but we are somehow concerned that we are a little bit behind in practical preparations. And preparations are necessary even if you don’t know that you have a final settlement, because if you have it, you need to be ready basically, to hit the ground running”.
Asked if these are the outstanding issues that need agreement, Eide said “these are not actually differences. They are largely in agreement, but there is work that has to be done. It’s a lot of practical issues. For example, if the Federal United Cyprus emerges, you need to have clarity on immigration rules from day one. You cannot wait three months. You need to know, because it is a united country in the EU. You need to be able to give people new passports. If you give new passports you need to know what will be the symbol of the state. You can think that these are really small things but it’s necessary to work on them”.
Eide said that, together with the leaders, they have come up with a list of practical things that need to be done before they are ready. “It is not alarming that we haven’t started yet, but it will be alarming if we are not able to start dealing with them reasonably soon”, he concluded.