Cyprus: Turkey is undermining a new initiative from the UN

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The personal envoy of the UN Secretary-General for Cyprus, María Ángela Holguín Cuéllar, will explore the possibility of finding common ground for the resumption of talks aimed at resolving the Cyprus issue

The former foreign minister of Colombia and personal envoy of the UN Secretary-General for Cyprus, María Ángela Holguín Cuéllar, has been in the Mediterranean island country since last night. Mrs Cuéllar will explore the possibility of finding common ground for the resumption of talks to resolve the Cyprus issue, which this year marks 50 years since Turkey's invasion.

The task of Mrs Cuéllar is rather difficult as after the collapse of the talks in July 2017 in Crans Montana, Switzerland, there have been no consultations between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots since the Turkish side has distanced itself from the agreed solution framework for a Bizonal Bicommunal Federation, demanding instead recognition of "sovereign equality" and a two-state solution, despite UN Security Council and General Assembly resolutions rejecting such a thing.

Mrs Cuéllar's visit is the first, while she will also visit Greece, Turkey and Britain, which are guarantor powers according to the 1960 Agreements. As stated by the Press Representative of the UN Secretary-General in New York, Stéphane Dujarric, Cuéllar will meet with President Nikos Christodoulides in his capacity as the leader of the Republic of Cyprus and the Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar tomorrow, Tuesday.

During her stay in Cyprus, she will contact local actors on both sides while meeting with representatives of non-governmental organisations, youth and women.

The Cypriot Government Spokesman, Konstantinos Letymbiotis, stated that with the arrival in Cyprus of the personal envoy of the Secretary General of the United Nations, a period of mobility begins in the Cypriot region in which the Cypriot government approaches with sincere political will.

He noted that this was also the pursuit from the first moment. It is an important development, Mr. Letymbiotis said, and Nicosia is determined to contribute to creating the conditions for the resumption of negotiations from the point where they were interrupted in accordance with the relevant resolutions of the United Nations Security Council.

On the other hand, the Turkish side has yet to show any signs of conversion from its positions outside the UN framework, limiting the chances of success of the new initiative while intensifying its challenges to the Green Line and differentiating the status quo. Nicosia is reacting to these moves even though the head of the UN in Cyprus maintains an even-distance attitude, placing responsibility on both sides.

Reactions to the measures in favour of Turkish Cypriots

The day before yesterday, the Cypriot government announced a package of 14 measures in favour of Turkish Cypriots to create a better climate in view of Ms Cuéllar's contacts. Turkish Cypriot actors cautiously treated the measures, while some characterised them as a trap to defeat the goal of recognising two states.

Reactions were also caused on the Greek Cypriot side by the decision to examine the possibility of obtaining Cypriot citizenship for children of mixed marriages between Turkish Cypriots and Turks. Party representatives characterised this measure as a "window" for the legalisation of settler children, which the government rejects, as conditions have been set.

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