UN Special Envoy to Cyprus Espen Barth Eide has said that the UN has helped to formulate a compromise to address the major stumbling block in the Cyprus talks – security.
The formula had emerged following consultations with both Cypriot communities’ leaders, the EU and the guarantor countries, Turkey, Greece and the UK.
Declining to give details, Eide said that “An idea is emerging that I am quite confident could work,” He said the formula is based on what all sides “actually need” rather than what’s currently in place.
In 1974, Turkey initiated a military operation in north Cyprus after a coup by supporter of Enosis (union with Greece). Turkey now has over 30,000 troops stationed in north Cyprus because the Turkish Cypriots have concerns about their security.
Mindful of the tragic events in the 1960s and 1970s that led to that military intervention, Turkey says it wants to maintain its troops there and keep the right to intervene militarily as part of any reunification deal. Turkish Cypriots insist Turkey’s military presence would be fundamental to their security. But the Greek Cypriots see it as a threat and a means of maintaining Ankara’s influence on the island.
“I think a mutual agreement on security and guarantees is possible,” Eide said. However, in a rare display of concern after two years of progress in the negotiations, he added that he was not sure if there was enough trust and will on both sides to achieve a settlement in Cyprus.
Eide has persuaded President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci to show “true leadership” before domestic and regional developments over the next several months complicate the talks even further.
“We can walk this path with Cyprus, but we cannot do it for you … If the Cypriots don’t want it, we don’t want it,” he said.
Negotiations resumed on 11th April 11 after a two-month hiatus because of a vote taken by the Greek Cypriot Parliament’s decision to mark a 1950 referendum seeking union with Greece in secondary schools.
On 7th April, the Greek Cypriot Parliament undid this decision, which allowed for the negotiations to resume.
Eide also told Reuters in an interview that Greek and Turkish Cypriots have reached a critical juncture in negotiations to end the decades-old division and only a small number of issues remain to be resolved.
“We are at a crossroads,” Eide told Reuters.
“I think the leaders know that we are at the crossroads and at the crossroads you have to take the right turn, or the alternative is the wrong turn,” he added.