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Cyprus since my last report, of 8 August 2011 (S/2011/498).
Special Adviser, Alexander Downer, and his team to support such an outcome.
12 March 2012
12-26048 (E) 150312
Assessment report of the Secretary-General on the status of
the negotiations in Cyprus
1. This report provides an updated assessment of the state of the negotiations in
Cyprus since my last report, of 8 August 2011 (S/2011/498).
2. From the outset, the United Nations has safeguarded the principle that this
process is, and has always been, Cypriot-owned and Cypriot-led. The role of the
United Nations has been to facilitate the talks and provide assistance, at the specific
request of the sides. Both sides made a commitment in 2008 to take ownership and
thus to bear responsibility for the process.
3. Since the beginning of full-fledged negotiations in September 2008, I have met
six times with the leaders of the Greek Cypriot community and the Turkish Cypriot
community: once with Demetris Christofias and Mehmet Ali Talat, the previous
Turkish Cypriot leader, in Cyprus in January 2010; and five times with Demetris
Christofias and Dervi
ş Eroğlu, in New York on 18 November 2010, in Geneva on
26 January and 7 July 2011, in New York at the Greentree Estate on 30 and
31 October 2011, and again at Greentree on 23 and 24 January 2012. My Special
Adviser, Alexander Downer, and his team have been available throughout the
process to support the negotiations between the two sides.
4. Building on a four-month preparatory phase, negotiations on all chapters
began in September 2008, with joint papers and bridging proposals prepared by both
sides. The main areas being covered by the negotiations are: governance and powersharing,
European Union matters, the economy, property, territory, security and
guarantees, and citizenship. In 2010, the sides submitted comprehensive proposals
on governance and power-sharing, as well as on property. Making slow but steady
progress throughout 2010, the sides reached convergence on a number of issues
within the chapters of governance and power-sharing, the economy and European
Union-related matters. Nonetheless, it became increasingly clear that resolution of
the outstanding core issues would require a different approach.
5. In November 2010, the sides agreed to step up the pace of the negotiations and
to focus their efforts on achieving substantive agreements on remaining core issues
across all chapters. With new momentum and renewed focus, further convergences
were reached on the chapters of the economy and European Union matters, as well
as on internal aspects of security and international treaties that would be binding on
a united Cyprus. In 2011, the sides continued to chip away at the key outstanding
issues relating primarily to governance and power-sharing, property and citizenship.
6. In my last report, which followed my meeting with the two leaders in July
2011, I was pleased to report the demonstrated commitment of both sides to reach
convergence on all core issues by our next meeting, scheduled for October 2011. I
reported that the two leaders had agreed to intensify the negotiations, improve the
methodology of the talks and redouble their efforts. It was agreed that this new
impetus would entail initiating a comprehensive approach on all core issues and
identifying substantive trade-offs within and across chapters.
7. In support of the process, I have used the period since my last report to keep
the resolution of the Cyprus question high on the agenda of the United Nations, as
well as on the agenda of key regional and international leaders. This has become
particularly important as a number of other pressing issues in the region have taken
on greater immediacy. I have continued to discuss the Cyprus question with various
Heads of State and senior officials, including the President, Prime Minister and
Minister for Foreign Affairs of Turkey, Abdullah Gül, Recep Tayyip Erdo
ğlu; the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and
Northern Ireland, David Cameron, and the Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg;
senior officials from the European Union; and Heads of State and Government of
Denmark, Sweden and Switzerland. My Special Adviser has also continued to
engage with senior officials who are pivotal to the process, particularly those of the
three guarantor Powers, namely Greece, Turkey and the United Kingdom.
III. Status of the process
8. Since my last report in August 2011, the leaders have maintained a steady
schedule of direct talks. As at the end of February 2012, they have met 33 times,
while their representatives have met, separately, on 8 occasions. In addition, my
Special Adviser and his team increased the pace of bilateral meetings with each side
to assist in overcoming challenges, making use of the experts whom I made
available to both sides. This process has been productive.
9. After our July meeting, the sides refocused negotiations on the core issues
where progress was crucial in order for the talks to advance. This approach proved
useful and, by the time I met with the leaders at Greentree on 30 and 31 October
2011, some positive movement was evident, particularly in the areas of the
economy, European Union matters and internal aspects of security. At Greentree, the
two sides showed willingness to compromise and, as a result, moved closer on core
issues relating to governance and power-sharing, citizenship, property and territory.
Moreover, both before and at Greentree, the sides engaged in a paring-down process
that resulted in focusing on what both sides term as the “core core” issues: the
election of the executive, the number of persons who would become citizens of a
united Cyprus, and the basic design of a property regime.
10. The leaders assured me at Greentree in October 2011 that they believed that
they could finalize a deal. With that assurance, I invited them back to Greentree in
January 2012. Before that meeting, on 6 January 2012, I wrote to the two leaders
expressing the understanding that the talks had entered their final phase, and
reviewing the steps for its implementation. I urged them to unblock the remaining
obstacles in the negotiations so that substantive discussions at Greentree could open
this pathway, leading to a multilateral conference and, ultimately, to a settlement.
Both leaders responded by reiterating their commitment to a solution. It was my
expectation that decisive moves on the three “core core” issues would be made at
Greentree, adding to the considerable body of work already achieved by the two
sides. However, while discussions at the meeting were robust and intensive, only
limited progress was achieved.
11. Regarding the “core core” issues, the election of the executive remains at an
impasse. With respect to citizenship, the sides have accepted an approach whereby
an agreed number of persons from both sides would become citizens of a united
Cyprus with the entry into force of a comprehensive agreement. On the issue of
property, negotiations have arrived at the stage where the sides are exchanging data,
which should assist them in reaching a common understanding based on their
separate proposals. It is clear to both sides that full agreement on property will
ultimately depend on the resolution of the question of territorial adjustment. The
two sides have agreed that maps and figures will be discussed only in the period
leading up to the multilateral conference.
12. Another crucial issue that remains unresolved is precisely how a settlement
would be incorporated into European Union law. Both sides have put forward
proposals that attempt to address some of the concerns of the other side. However,
to date, neither side has found the other’s proposals satisfactory.
13. Regarding the chapter of security and guarantees, internal aspects have largely
been agreed. The external aspects of security can be resolved only in discussions
with the guarantor Powers, as signatories to the Treaties of Guarantee and Alliance.
14. Ahead of the January 2012 meeting at Greentree, Cyprus 2015, a civil society
group and partner in United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Action for
Cooperation and Trust in Cyprus (UNDP-ACT), shared a targeted policy brief with
the two negotiating teams, which informed them about the state of public opinion on
the issues under discussion and suggested ways forward in the peace process,
including ensuring greater public ownership. The United Nations continues to
encourage civil society engagement in the process.
15. Following recommendations submitted to the two leaders in July 2011 by the
Gender Advisory Team, a civil society-based bicommunal group formed in 2009, the
project team of bicommunal “ENGAGE: Do Your Part for Peace” initiative
developed a process aimed at better integrating women’s perspectives into
reconciliation efforts. This process, called the “Active Dialogue Network”, is aimed
at supporting a platform for dialogue and exchange on the peace process and for
incorporating a gender perspective into the peace process, as called for by the
Security Council in its resolution 1325 (2000). The platform could also provide an
opportunity for citizens to participate more in the process and influence
policymakers. The women of Cyprus have an important stake in a durable solution
to the Cyprus problem, as well as specific needs that would need to be addressed in
the context of a settlement. I commend such initiatives from civil society
organizations, including women’s groups, which seek to contribute to the peace
16. Since my November 2010 meeting with the leaders, both sides have worked on
the difficult task of breaking down the complex Cyprus problem into its core issues.
Through this approach, the sides continued to identify and address the most crucial
elements of a solution to the Cyprus problem, and have made some additional
progress in resolving them.
17. I came away from our first meeting in Greentree assured by the leaders that a
comprehensive settlement could be achieved. However, no further convergences in
the talks were reached before our second meeting at Greentree. I was disappointed
with this lack of progress, and conveyed my disappointment to the leaders at
Greentree in January.
18. In this Cypriot-owned and Cypriot-led process, it is up to the leaders to take
the negotiations to a successful conclusion. Accordingly, I have reassured them that
the United Nations does not seek to impose solutions. At the same time, I have
repeatedly expressed my point of view that the negotiations should not be openended;
the longer the talks have been drawn out, the more disillusioned the public
has become and the harder it has become to conclude agreements.
19. At this advanced stage of the negotiations, it is important to recall that, since
the start of the process, a significant number of convergences have been reached
across various key chapters of the negotiations. As a Cypriot-led process, these
achievements are entirely Cypriot-owned. At the moment, however, the negotiations
on the “core core” issues that remain to be agreed, are close to deadlock. Despite the
leaders’ repeated commitments to intensify the negotiations and push for a
conclusion as soon as possible, the fact that there has been such limited movement
towards convergence on core issues in recent months is a matter of concern.
20. The leaders must now make decisive moves that will demonstrate that
agreement is indeed within their grasp. They must focus their efforts on resolving
the outstanding challenges. In particular, they must find a way to move beyond the
existing deadlock on the election of the executive and advance more definitively on
property and citizenship. Regarding property, while I understand that some aspects
cannot be completely finalized until decisions are made on maps and figures relating
to territory, it should now be possible for both sides to agree on a common
understanding on property that is simple, clear, and contingent upon those decisions.
I note with satisfaction that the sides have embarked on the exchange of data on
property referred to in my statement following the second meeting at Greentree.
21. There is no doubt that the political environment in which the negotiations are
currently taking place has become increasingly difficult. Nonetheless, it is
incumbent upon the leaders to foster a more conducive atmosphere for the talks by
refraining from engaging in negative rhetoric about each other and the process and
by preserving the confidentiality of the talks. In addition to preserving the integrity
of the process, decisive action in this regard would also contribute to building public
confidence in its viability which, at present, is low.
22. Civil society also has a crucial role to play in building public confidence in the
process. Unfortunately, civil society organizations, and women’s groups in
particular, remain outside the framework of the negotiations. I therefore call on the
sides to step up their engagement with civil society and women’s groups, with a
view to building public confidence in the benefits of a settlement and ensuring that,
once it is reached, the settlement is sustainable and truly representative of the needs
and aspirations of all Cypriots.
23. The time for an agreement is now. The domestic, regional and international
context is constantly shifting. The current window of opportunity is not limitless
and there is little to suggest that the future will bring more propitious circumstances
for a settlement. The United Nations remains convinced that if the necessary
political will could be mustered on both sides, a durable settlement could be
achieved in the interests of all Cypriots. I have full confidence in the efforts of my
Special Adviser, Alexander Downer, and his team to support such an outcome.