News, interviews and opinions on Cyprus peace process
Thursday, 15 December 2016
UN to broker Security - Interview with UNSG's Special Advisor in Cyprus Espen Barth Eide
By Esra Aygin
The UN expects to play a different role when it comes to overcoming the final hurdle of the Cyprus problem, acting more as the broker between the various players on the thorny issues of security and guarantees.
“I sense that UN’s role and my role as the representative of the Secretary-General is a different kind of role in the sixth chapter,” the UN Special Adviser Espen Barth Eide told the Cyprus Weekly in an interview.
This would be a break with the Cypriot-owned process to date, where the UN is designated as a ‘facilitator’, rather than a mediator or arbitrator, and leaders Nicos Anastasiades and Mustafa Akinci are very much in control.
“In the five chapters, we are merely custodians and facilitators of a process that Cypriots solved. Here there is a bigger thing going on where, frankly, there is a need for an impartial player,” he said.
The change in approach is prompted by a recognition that other players will have different interests from either Greek or Turkish Cypriots.
“We all have to understand that, for Anastasiades and Akinci and me, we want to focus on Cyprus and we want to do what’s best for the Cypriots. The other players hopefully have some concern for the Cypriots, but they are also thinking about their other interests,” Eide said.
The UN envoy hinted at new approaches to security that have not been considered before.
“You can either look for a middle ground, but you can also think outside the box. … Let’s find something that nobody thought about yet,” he said.
“I have concrete ideas, but I am not going to tell them to you because they are very confidential and only shared with the players,” he added.
Eide said he would like to see the leaders discussing the issue of security more.
“It would be helpful if we could also have a Cypriot dialogue on these things (security and guarantees) – not unrelated to what is happening out there, but some energy coming out of Cyprus,” he said.
“Because the closeness, the trust and friendly relationship, but also the understanding the two leaders have developed, of course, is more here, and is not replicated between all other players.”
Don’t be a hostage
Eide said that the most difficult parts pertaining to Cyprus only, to be solved by Cypriots, are “behind us, in my view”.
“It would be a good strategy if, now, Cypriots are able to think as Cypriots – one Cyprus,” he said.
“And don’t be hostage to anybody else. And that’s actually a shared interest.”
Property costs lower
The UN Special Adviser said the World Bank now “has the numbers” on property and will validate them with the two sides before they become public. He said financing was not “keeping him awake at night”.
“What I can say is that they are significantly lower than a lot of the numbers that have been flying around, and the financeability is probably higher than what people think.”