UN chief pledges to fight for all Cypriots, as impasse remains

29 April 2021

UN Secretary-General António Guterres pledged on Thursday that he would continue to represent the interests of all Cypriots in future talks on the divided Mediterranean island, as an informal effort to break the impasse ended, without finding common ground.  

“The truth is that in the end of our efforts we have not yet found enough common ground to allow for the resumption of formal negotiations in relation to the settlement of the Cyprus problem”, he told journalists in Geneva, where the talks took place. 

Striking a note of optimism, Mr. Guterres added that there had been agreement over another meeting “in the near future…again with the objective to move in the direction of reaching common ground to allow for formal negotiations to start”.   

The development represents the latest UN-led effort to resolve decades of tensions in Cyprus between the Turkish Cypriot north and the Greek Cypriot south, whose communities have been split since 1974.  

Elusive deal  

Four years ago, Mr. Guterres attempted to bring the two sides to a deal at the Swiss Alpine resort of Crans-Montana, where detailed talks ultimately broke down. 

Six main issues were on the table, including security and guarantees, new territorial boundaries, and power-sharing.  

Ahead of this latest push to solve the Cyprus situation, Mr. Guterres was said to “realistic” about the chances of making progress, according to his spokesperson. 

But he explained that the position officially outlined 24 hours earlier by the Turkish Cypriot delegation – led by recently-elected Ersin Tatar – “was that the many efforts made to solve the Cyprus issue over the years have failed, including the most recent attempt made in Crans-Montana. They believe that efforts to negotiate the bi-zonal, bi-communal federation have been exhausted.”   

Set against this, the Greek Cypriot position – reiterated by leader Nicos Anastasiades – was “that negotiations should resume from where they left off in Crans-Montana (that should) aim to achieve a settlement based on a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation”, Mr. Guterres said, after bilateral meetings with the leaders of the Turkish Cypriot and Greek  Cypriot communities, and with the Foreign Ministers of “guarantor” powers Turkey, Greece and the UK. 

No giving up 

“I do not give up”, the UN chief insisted, adding that his agenda was very simple: “strictly to fight for the security and wellbeing for every Cypriot, of the Greek Cypriots and the Turkish Cypriots that deserve to live in peace and prosperity together.” 

The UN push for a solution to the Cyprus impasse follows consultations conducted in recent months on his behalf by Under Secretary-General Jane Holl Lute.  

I do not give up -- UN chief

Security role 

One of the UN’s longest-running peacekeeping missions helps to maintain peace on the island. 

The UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) was established in 1964 to prevent further fighting between the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities and bring about a return to normal conditions. 

Its Force Commander is Major General Ingrid Gjerde of Norway. 

The mission’s responsibilities expanded in 1974, following a coup d’etat by elements favouring union with Greece and subsequent military intervention by Turkey, whose troops established control over the northern part of the island. 

Since a de facto ceasefire in August 1974, UNFICYP has supervised ceasefire lines, provided humanitarian assistance and maintained a buffer zone between the Turkish and Turkish Cypriot forces in the north and the Greek Cypriot forces in the south.

 

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News Tracker: Past Stories on This Issue

UN chief ‘realistic’ at start of fresh bid to resolve Cyprus stalemate

A fresh United Nations-led bid to seek to resolve decades of tensions in Cyprus began in Geneva on Tuesday, with Secretary-General António Guterres “realistic” about the chances of making progress, his Spokesperson said.