Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci is going to New York to plan the remaining stages of the negotiations process and pave the way for a successful multi-party conference to seal a deal on Cyprus.
Akinci and Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades are travelling to the US metropolis for a trilateral meeting with United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on September 25. The two leaders will also be holding separate meetings on the Cyprus talks on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.
In a second round of intensive negotiations, Akinci and Anastasiades met a total of eight times between August 23 and September 14 in a bid to reduce divergences in the six chapters of the Cyprus problem: Governance and Power-Sharing; Property; European Union matters; Economy; Territory; Security and Guarantees.
In a joint statement at the end of the eight sessions on Wednesday, the two leaders said they had achieved significant progress in Governance and Power-Sharing, Property, EU matters and Economy. Views and positions were exchanged on Territory and Security and Guarantees.
The Cypriot leaders said they would request the UN chief to intensify his personal engagement in the process in the months to come and reiterated the aim of reaching a comprehensive settlement agreement within 2016. “The period until the end of 2016 will need to be planned very well if we want to reach a Cyprus solution in 2016,” said Akinci.
“This will be my expectation from the meeting [with the UNSG].”
The Turkish Cypriot side wants to determine a road map – even if an unofficial one – for the discussions that will take place in the months to come, as well as to prepare the ground for a multi-party conference in October to agree on a security/guarantee framework for a federal Cyprus and seal a deal.
The Security and Guarantees chapter can only be solved with the participation of the guarantor powers – Turkey, Greece and the United Kingdom. Officials from the guarantor states, as well as important actors from the international community will be in New York next week, which is seen as an invaluable opportunity for some advanced backstage diplomacy on this chapter.
Akinci disclosed there would be meetings between Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and Greek Foreign Minister Nicos Kotzias in New York, as well as between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.
Whatever happens in New York, it seems the sides have exhausted the ways of reaching further agreements in the current format.
“The amount of effort made in the last months and the achieved results are not proportionate,” said a diplomatic source.
The remaining few divergences under the Governance and Power-Sharing and Property chapters – such as rotational presidency and who will have the right to return to his/her property – as well as the most sensitive chapters of Territory and Security and Guarantees are most likely the bargaining chips that will remain so until the last big give-and-take between the sides.
“Novel, creative methods were found until now to create win-win situations,” said the source. “It is not win-win, but give-and-take beyond this point.
“Nothing will come out of talks in October if the leaders come back to Cyprus from New York and continue in the same format.”
Under what kind of a format this last big give-and-take will arise, and how it will be designed, are questions that will need to be answered soon.