Greece’s foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias expressed optimism about the Geneva talks on Cyprus next week, after emerging from a two-hour meeting in Athens with UN Special Adviser on Cyprus, Espen Barth Eide.
Kotzias ruled out the possibility of failure on the Cyprus reunifications talks suggesting only delays and postponements as the worst scenario.
“Even if negotiations need to halt at some point, this will not be a disaster but an element of the process in order to continue later […] Talks can only be postponed or delayed. There’s a difference. Failure means a negotiation stops without any results,” Kotzias said.
“We have received assurances from the United Nations that this negotiation will be what we call in international debates ‘open-ended’, which means it will be a negotiation which, even if it stops, it will not be viewed as having collapsed, but that it can continue in the future with more preparation,” he added.
One way this could be done is if the three leaders propose that talks continue on an experts’ level, he continued. “But they may also agree from the first moment – but this remains to be seen.”
Speaking to Greek media, Kotzias was asked about the possibility of a meeting between Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Cyprus, and replied that “a lot of meetings” are being held to prepare the top-level talks which will be held before or after Geneva.
“Greece and Cyprus have a common front […] Especially in Greece we have managed to form a common line that we support Cyprus and we support the abolition of guarantees, the intervention of any country in Cyprus’ domestic affairs and the withdrawal of the occupation army,” he noted.
Kotzias expressed certainty that British Prime Minister Theresa May will be at the Geneva meeting, but also on Thursday, during his meeting with Foreign Office Minister Sir Alan Duncan and during the dinner with his British counterpart Boris Johnson in London, between his visit to New York and Geneva.
On his part, UN Special Advisor on Cyprus Espen Barth Eide also displayed the customary diplomatic optimism hoping for a final solution for Cyprus in Geneva.
"We go there [to Geneva] with the ambition of solving it now, and then we will see how things develop when we are there. Sometimes people can be positively surprised, and maybe things come up, when the key players are there, that we have not been able to fully achieve in the preparations. So that is exactly why we need an international conference at this stage.
“As I told some of you a month ago, while there are still outstanding issues in Cyprus, and the leaders met today, and the negotiators meet on a daily basis, we have the strong feeling that if it was only up to the Cypriots now, this problem will be solved.
“The key questions that are outstanding are those pertaining to security and guarantees. And this will be the main focus of the conference next week, in Geneva. It is open-ended, in the sense that it starts on the twelfth. We have deliberately not said when it ends, because we need to take the time we need. But we go there with the ambition of finding solutions, or at least a framework for a solution, that can bring us to a final settlement,’’ he said.
Concerning the chances of success in the crucial Geneva meeting, Eide said the UN is “only planning for success”, but all sides have to be frank about the fact that “an inability to solve it this time will not mean that we have another chance in three months or six months or one year or five years”, and urged all sides to use the current opportunity to resolve the problems.
“My principal interest is to help Cyprus to reunify itself. But I also think that, in a volatile region, the story of people coming together again and rebuilding a togetherness, one state in one island, will send a signal way beyond, to the Middle East, to Europe, that fragmentation is not the only option, that reunification and coming together is also an option in a very difficult and volatile world," he said.