UN Special Adviser on Cyprus Espen Barth Eide has said he is optimistic that a solution is on the near horizon.
Eide pointed to the good relationship between the two community leaders, stressing that they both honestly wanted a solution. He also said that “some of the best minds on the island spend a lot of time on finding solutions to issues such as property.”
In an interview with ‘Kathimerini’ on Sunday, he said that the difference between the 2004 Annan plan and the current negotiations was that the points where there were convergences, had been agreed between the two communities, not by outsiders.
In addition, Eide said that there would be no presidential elections in the near future, meaning that there would be continuity. The same two leaders would have the opportunity to conclude the negotiations.
Asked about the rotating presidency, an issue the leaders have not yet agreed on, Eide said he lives in Switzerland where there is an alternating presidency. He said this was one of the few outstanding issues left to resolve on the governance chapter. He stressed, however, that he would support whatever the leaders agreed upon, in this respect.
Referring to the issue of hydrocarbons found offshore Cyprus, Eide said that it would be easier to manage the issue, commercially speaking, if there was a solution. The exploitation of natural gas could be managed at a federal level – something which was agreed prior to the start of the latest negotiations which began in May, 2015.
On the topic of guarantees, Eide said that there had to be a change in the current system. However, a new one would have to provide freedom of movement and equal rights for all citizens. “The more sense of security achieved in non-military terms, the easier it will be to agree on purely military aspects,” he said.
The Turkish Cypriots prefer to continue with Turkey acting as guarantor, but the Greek Cypriots say that EU membership is adequate safeguard for the rights and freedoms of all Cypriots.
Commenting on the upcoming World Economic Forum conference in Davos in Switzerland later this month, which will be attended by both President Nicos Anastasiades and President Mustafa Akinci, and many other representatives of the international community, Eide said he wanted to make it clear that the UN was not planning a multinational conference on Cyprus.
He emphasised, however, that an extra dynamic would be created with the joint presence of the two community leaders in Davos, with the leaders of guarantor powers from Greece, Turkey and the UK, and the UN Secretary General, plus major businessmen willing to invest in a united Cyprus.