The Cyprus Conference in Crans-Montana is at a critical juncture, with delegations about to tackle the elements of a comprehensive solution of the problem through a holistic approach.
The Cyprus Weekly has learned that Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cyprios, as well as the guarantor powers – Turkey, Greece and the United Kingdom – have agreed treat as a package thorny issues such as governance (effective participation and rotating presidency), property (who will have the right to return to their property), territory (areas to be subject to territorial adjustments), security and guarantees (including implementation of solution), and equivalent treatment of Greek and Turkish nationals in a federal Cyprus. This exercise is expected to allow the sides to discuss the above issues interdependently and try to find common ground.
In a statement, released through his spokesperson yesterday, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, summing up Friday’s dinner with Cyprus leaders and the heads of delegation, said “a clear understanding emerged of the essential elements of a package that might lead to a comprehensive settlement in Cyprus.”
Diplomatic sources in Crans-Montana are saying there already are concrete steps of flexibility from Turkey and Greece in security and guarantees, an issue vital for Greek Cypriots and the equal treatment of Turkish and Greek nationals in a federal Cyprus, a firm Turkish and Turkish Cypriot objective. Other sources, though, insist that the “equal treatment” issue is a red line for Greek Cypriot and Greeks.
In another important development, a working group has been formed to look at how the implementation of a solution will be monitored and what measures will be taken in the case of a failure to implement.
All sides are currently preparing their proposals on the aforementioned essential elements and will hand their proposals to the UN on Monday. From there on, negotiations will begin based on the initial proposals of the sides on governance and power sharing, property, territory, security and guarantees and equivalent treatment of Turkish and Greek nationals.
UN Secretary General Guterres is in Europe and is ready to return to Crans-Montana any time, sources say. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias and UK Minister of State at the Foreign Office Alan Duncan are scheduled to stay in Crans-Montana throughout next week.
Sources are upbeat about the coming week in Crans-Montana. “The process right now is more positive than what even the most optimistic could imagine,” a source said, on condition of anonymity.
There is a broad understanding among diplomatic sources here that the process is at a turning point and that all elements are there for reaching a comprehensive solution. It would of course, be no surprise if one or more of the sides pull back in the last moment. However, if the sides negotiate the core elements with determination and courage, a framework agreement may emerge from Crans-Montana by the end of next week.
If that is the case, the coming months will be used for the writing of the Constitution and laws, finalising the technical details of a settlement and expediting the preparation of the Turkish Cypriots for the implementation of the EU acquis. In autumn, the Cyprus conference will reconvene for the signing of the comprehensive settlement agreement.
Nothing is certain or irreversible yet. However, if the sides fail to reach an agreement this time around, it will only be because one or more of them really doesn’t want it or doesn’t have the courage to shoulder this historic responsibility.