By Lefteris Adilinis and Esra Aygin
Intense shuttle diplomacy by the UN between Cyprus leaders Nicos Anastasiades and Mustafa Akinci to bridge differences over the last phase of negotiations in Geneva hasn’t led to any results so far.
UN envoy Espen Barth Eide has been trying to broker a deal on the way forward.
Anastasiades, Akinci and apparently Ankara disagree over how the remaining issues on all six chapters will be taken up in Geneva.
Anastasiades wants to discuss security and guarantees first in the presence of guarantor powers Turkey, Greece, the UK and the EU before moving on to other aspects.
Akinci, on the other hand, says that as the 11 February 2014 joint communiqué stipulates all issues should be discussed interdependently rejecting any preconditions on how the final phase of the negotiations will be held.
Trip to Turkey
A Greek Cypriot source told the Cyprus Weekly that Anastasiades, has suggested to Eide to go to Ankara and discuss his proposal for a second Geneva.
Greek Cypriots understand that Akinci cannot commit Turkey to any decision related to the security and guarantees chapter.
That’s why it’s deemed necessary for Eide to visit Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s palace and meet his close adviser Ibrahim Kalin to get a definite answer on Geneva II.
Eide has announced that shuttle diplomacy will continue to bridge the remaining differences. “I want to be honest, the leaders are far apart on the methodology of the conference is concerned.”
Earlier he had pronounced his task was difficult because “the devil is in the details and the details are very important for both sides”.
Last night, Eide was scheduled to brief Anastasiades on Akinci’s reaction to his proposal.
An insider told The Cyprus Weekly that the leader’s conversation during a reception at the US Embassy could determine if there would be more meetings today and Saturday.
Elements of a deal
The leaders, since May 2015, have made significant progress on the internal aspects of the Cyprus problem, namely governance and power sharing, property, economy, European Union and territory.
Observers agree that some difficult issues remain in each chapter such as rotating presidency, who has the right to return, territorial adjustments as well as security and guarantees. There is an extensive understanding that there is not much left to do except enter the last phase of the big give-and-take.
“Both sides know what the final agreement will look like but are holding on to the issues they see as their biggest bargaining chips and the whole problem right now is who gives what and when,” said a source close to the negotiations. “So the impasse is over the methodology rather than content.”
A Greek Cypriot source told the Cyprus Weekly that Anastasiades will not necessarily insist on completing the security and guarantees chapter before taking up the rest of the issues. The source said that all Anastasiades needs is to have a clearer picture on what the ultimate security setup will be.
A Turkish Cypriot source however argued that Turkey has given very clear messages on security and guarantees and says it is impossible to give Anastasiades a clearer picture as this would very much depend on the ultimate decisions in other chapters such as governance and power sharing.