Acknowledging that there is still a lot of work to be done, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres joined the ongoing Cyprus talks on Friday at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana and urged Greek and Turkish Cypriots to seize what he described as a “historic opportunity” for a deal.
Guterres, who chaired on Friday’s talks between rival Cypriot leaders and representatives from Britain, Turkey and Greece, told journalists “there is no doubt that some sensitive and difficult issues remain to be resolved” and that “there is still a lot of work to be done.”
However, he insisted that the “UN is not impatient and that it is not trying to threaten the parties in any way,” adding there has been progress, albeit slow, in the process that resumed on June 28.
“What we want is the result to be positive and sustainable, we don’t want a false agreement that would not last,” he said.
Unlocking the sensitive issue of security and guarantees could prove pivotal for a deal, and Guterres lauded both sides for their commitment to finding a mutually acceptable solution to break the deadlock.
“There were some new positions showing increased flexibility in some aspects... but it is slow progress and many outstanding issues are still to be resolved.”
Greek Cypriots are demanding the withdrawal of some 35,000 Turkish troops stationed on the island since Turkey’s invasion in 1974 and the scrapping of the “anachronistic” system of guarantees, whereby Greece, Turkey and Britain have rights of intervention. But Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu reiterated on Friday that the Greek side must let go of its “dream” of zero Turkish troops on the island, and that Ankara will never forfeit its rights of intervention. Instead, he talked about an “adaptation” of the guarantees system to the present conditions.
Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias said that no Greek government will ever sign an agreement handing Turkey rights of intervention. Cavusoglu also reportedly proposed a package deal including all the issues, but Kotzias said Greece “will not discuss package deals” but only what is decided by Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish-Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci.