Antonio Guterres is holding talks in Geneva this week over the future of the divided island after a four-year hiatus.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says he is “realistic” about the prospect of progress in key Cyprus reunification talks, and urged the Greek and Turkish Cypriot parties to “be creative” in their approach .
The Geneva-based meeting on the future of the divided Mediterranean island will begin later on Tuesday.
Guterres called on leaders of the two communities in Cyprus, as well as the foreign ministers of Greece, Turkey and the United Kingdom – a former colonial ruler in Cyprus – to participate in a bid to resume the peace negotiations that collapsed in mid-2017.
Discussions are expected to last three days and could lead to formal negotiations.
Guterres will first hold bilateral meetings between the two island communities, followed by discussions with all parties on Wednesday.
“The purpose of this informal meeting will be to determine whether there is common ground for the parties to negotiate a lasting solution to the Cyprus issue within a foreseeable horizon,” Guterres spokesman Stéphane Dujarric told the journalists a few hours before the start of the talks.
“The parties are invited to be creative and the Secretary-General will encourage them to use diplomatic language in a sincere and frank manner. The reason he invites them is to see if there is a common vision for the future. “
Cyprus was divided into southern Greek Cypriot and northern Turkish Cypriot in 1974.
Previous discussions of reunification under a federal umbrella, as called for in UN resolutions, have failed.
Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot leaders, led by Ersin Tatar and allies in Ankara, dismissed subsequent talks on a federation-based deal as a “waste of time” because nearly five decades of negotiations on this model have failed. to nothing.
Instead, they came up with what is essentially a two-state model which the Greek Cypriots in turn said they would not accept as it would legitimize the partition of the country.
The separatist Turkish Cypriot enclave created after a Turkish military invasion is recognized only by Ankara, while the Greek Cypriot administration is internationally recognized as the government of Cyprus.
This invasion came after a coup that sought to join the island with Greece.
The conflict has fueled wider tensions between NATO members Turkey and Greece, particularly over hydrocarbon resources.
Tatar offers a ‘new vision’
Ahead of Tuesday’s meeting, Tatar said he hoped his proposal for a two-state solution would bring a “new vision” to this week’s discussions, although the Greek Cypriots have already rejected the idea.
“I’m going there [Geneva] to highlight my new vision. My new vision is that two sovereign states live side by side in a good neighborly relationship, to cooperate in any way, to promote the welfare of all Cypriots, ”Tatar told Reuters in a Skype interview on Monday. .
“When I say two states, I obviously mean recognition of the Turkish Cypriots,” he added. “We are as sovereign as the Greek Cypriots.”
If the Greek Cypriot side rejects the two-state formula, Tatar said he would continue to advocate, along with Ankara, for the sovereignty of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC).
Tatar met with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara on Monday before heading to Geneva. Erdogan later said Turkey would “fully support” Tatar’s two-state proposal.
Cypriot government spokesman Kyriakos Kousios declined to comment on his expectations for the upcoming negotiations on Tuesday, at the request of Reuters.