Cypriot leaders Nicos Anastasiades and Mustafa Akinci are gearing up for their showdown with UN Secretary General on Sunday and the biggest challenge they face is how to overcome the different approaches as to when the end-game should begin and what format it should take.
Nevertheless, diplomatic sources point out that the state of play in Cyprus talks is such that a multi-party conference will take place in the coming few months.
The Turkish Cypriot side, feeling the pressure of time and Turkey’s clear stance that the window of opportunity will remain open until the end of 2016, would like to move the talks outside Cyprus for the final give-and-take as soon as possible.“Our aim is to move forward and begin discussing Territory and Security and Guarantees in a Greentree/Burgenstock kind of format,” said a Turkish Cypriot source.
“All relevant parties would be there at the periphery of the talks, but would only come to the table when we are discussing the Security and Guarantees chapter.”
The Greek Cypriot side, however, sees the path to an end-game rather differently.
They would like to go to back to Cyprus and continue negotiations in a more intensive format, possibly even every day.
Anastasiades’ team would consider holding a multi-party conference (involving Britain, Greece and Turkey) only if significant progress on thorny issues such as property and territory has been achieved, together with an initial understanding on how the issue of security will be handled.
Insiders point out that, although the Greek Cypriots have some valid points of concern as regards the overall progress in the talks so far, they approach the end-game more cautiously, under pressure from opponents of the current solution model, who argue the process is moving too fast.
Commenting on the current state of play, western diplomats argued that a multi-party conference appears to be inevitable, given the progress achieved so far, with governance, territory, properties, as well as security and guarantees, being the obvious aspects for trade-offs.
They also believe the current format of negotiations has outlived its usefulness.
“What is needed now is for the leaders to show courage and start making some political decisions,” a diplomat said.
“Nobody is suggesting holding multi-party talks before the sides are ready,” an insider added, “But key international leaders are reminding them that when they [have] come this far, they have a historic mission to go forward.”
During Sunday’s meeting, the Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot leaders will inform UN chief Ban Ki-moon on the negotiations and give their views on how the next phase of talks should look.
Diplomatic sources, talking to the Cyprus Weekly, believe that “the two leaders should speak the same language and give the UNSG a shared story of both the achievements and the outstanding issues”.
The UN Secretary General, earlier this week, stated that the progress achieved in the negotiations to find a comprehensive solution to the Cyprus problem is “unprecedented”.