Cyprus en­voy says gap dif­fi­cult but not un­bridge­able

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

United Na­tions Spe­cial En­voy Espen Barth Eide re­turned to Cyprus yes­ter­day in a bid to kick-start re­uni­fi­ca­tion talks that broke down last week at the Swiss re­sort of Mont Pelerin, say­ing it won’t be easy, even though he noted that he, in prin­ci­pal, saw “no un­bridge­able dif­fer­ences be­tween the two sides.”

Speak­ing to re­porters af­ter sep­a­rate meet­ings with Cyprus Pres­i­dent Ni­cos Anas­tasi­ades and Turk­ish-Cypriot leader Mustafa Ak­inci, Eide said he ar­rived on the is­land “to lis­ten to both lead­ers, to hear what their views are about what to do next,” and to of­fer the full sup­port of the UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil and the sec­re­tary-gen­eral.

But, ul­ti­mately, he added, “it’s in their hands to make up their mind about which are the right steps right now.”

Re­fer­ring to the sec­ond round of talks held at the Swiss re­sort, Eide said ex­pec­ta­tions were high and that their fail­ure es­sen­tially took away the mo­men­tum that was build­ing.

Get­ting a deal, he said, was also very much about how to se­quence things.

“Mont Pelerin 2 was a set­back be­cause we were not able to achieve all that we had ex­pected to achieve,” he said.

Anas­tasi­ades and Ak­inci have en­gaged in UN-backed ne­go­ti­a­tions since May 2015 un­til their break­down on Novem­ber 22 over dis­agree­ments con­cern­ing ter­ri­to­rial ad­just­ments and the num­ber of dis­placed Greek Cypri­ots that could re­turn to their prop­er­ties.

Eide is sched­uled to hold talks with Cypriot party lead­ers to­day be­fore meet­ing to­mor­row with vis­it­ing Bri­tish Foreign Min­is­ter Boris John­son.

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