The common document prepared by UN Special Envoy Espen Barth Eide and presented to the two Cypriot community leaders, has been scrapped.
The document which was intended to be a guide to discussions on security and guarantees at the Cyprus Conference in Crans-Montana, Switzerland, has been rejected by more that one party and will not be presented at the negotiations, Eide said.
Eide, who was addressing a news conference in Geneva before flying to Crans-Montana for the resumption of the international Cyprus summit, said that the two sides do not consider it to be a common document, and therefore it has no status.
Visibly annoyed, Eide said, “Incidentally, let me make absolutely clear that despite claims to the contrary, the UN has made no proposals in the draft document, and any claims otherwise are false, because we agreed with the sides that we wouldn’t do that.”
The UN envoy said that the negotiations had no end date, although for practical purposes “planning is until July 7”. “But whether we continue after that or not is a different issue,” he said.
Acknowledging that the two sides stating positions were “diametrically opposed”, Eide said however, that this is “not uncommon”.
“Reiterating one’s starting position at the start of the conference is to be expected,” he said. “It is not uncommon and the UN has experience with this.”
Eide said that from the start, there will be the need for hard work, without any guarantee of success. “But it is possible, it is possible to solve it,” the UN diplomat said.
At the press conference, Eide said he preferred not to characterise the conference as the “last chance” for a Cyprus settlement, but rather as the “best chance”, or a “unique opportunity”.
“There are definitely risks,” he said of the potential result of failure. “But on the day before the conference, I don’t want to focus on what happens if it fails.”
Although the two leaders have repeatedly declared that the status quo is unacceptable and must be changed, Eide said, a relative sense that “life goes on” has crept in because of stability and lack of violence, despite the troops present on the island.
“The problem is that there is no guarantee that the status quo is permanent,” he explained. “There is no guarantee that things won’t happen, even if they haven’t happened yet,” he warned.
Eide confirmed that there would be two negotiating ‘tables’ at Crans-Montana, One will deal with the issue of security and guarantees, which involve the guarantor countries, and the other work on bi-communal issues such as governance and power-sharing.
“The processes will be separate but interdependent,” the UN envoy said.