UN Secretary General and two Cypriot leaders agree to reconvene talks

António Guterres has announced he is ready to restart the Cyprus Talks. A statement released late on Monday evening by the United Nations said the Secretary General will “extend his efforts” to initiate “results-oriented negotiations” to resolve the long-standing Cyprus Problem.

The news follows a day of informal talks at Hotel Adlon Kempiski in Berlin between the UN chief and the Greek and Turkish Cypriot leaders Nicos Anastasiades and Mustafa Akıncı.

The UN Secretary General has said he will seek to create terms of reference “to serve as a consensus starting point for phased, meaningful” talks that should commence at the “earliest feasible opportunity”, although no dates were given. The aim, the statement said, is to “convene an informal five-plus-UN meeting at an appropriate stage”.

Mr Guterres held separate discussions with the two Cypriot leaders during the day. Both men reaffirmed their commitment to creating a “bi-zonal, bi-communal federation with political equality”. They also reiterated they would adhere to the Joint Declaration of 11 February 2014, prior convergences, and the six-point framework presented by the UN Secretary General in June 2017. Mr Guterres’ full statement can be read here.

The three men came together for dinner hosted by the UN chief on Monday evening, where they continued to discuss the next steps in reviving the peace talks.

At a press conference after the informal talks ended, Mustafa Akıncı said the “[Cyprus solution] train was back on track”, but that this was not enough and that the train had to “reach its final destination”.

Noting that the UN Secretary General had been unwilling to get back involved with Cyprus after the collapse of the talks at Crans Montana in July 2017, the TRNC President said he was “happy” with developments. He said the biggest stimulant to restarting the talks was the tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean, but that no timeline for the talks had been agreed.

With Guarantor power Britain’s expected Brexit from the European Union early next year and the upcoming Presidential elections in North Cyprus in April 2020, it is likely that the talks will commence in earnest some time in the spring, once the new Turkish Cypriot leader is voted in. Mr Akıncı, aged 71, is expected to stand for a second term.

Commenting on the news from Berlin, former Turkish Cypriot Chief Negotiator and Republican Turkish Party (CTP) MP Özdil Nami was less than enthusiastic. Nami tweeted: “Leaders met but didn’t deliver anything new. Guess we are expected to be happy for confirmation of past agreements and convergences. Again referring to “results oriented” without defining what it means is a let down. That UN will assist Terms of Reference sounds like dark comedy”.