Eide underlined that eight months of talks between Greek and Turkish Cypriot leaders, Nikos Anastasiades and Mustafa Akinci, have covered a lot of ground, but “we cannot say that there will be a settlement in a couple of weeks”.
There are few major issues, but then there are all the details that will follow from these issues.
So, we take the time we need, but as the leaders say themselves, we should not lose time, because momentum does not last forever,” he added.
The UN envoy places great emphasis on the European dimension of the settlement according to Eide, while on the issue of security and guarantees he believes that when there is sufficient trust and credibility in where we are getting to in all the other chapters, this will be the right time in getting the security issues right.
Asked if when he sent the invitations to the concerned parties to attend the World Economic Forum in Davos he was considering more progress to be accomplished in the negotiations, Eide stated that even if he were not at the World Economic Forum, Cyprus will still remain high on the agenda.
Invited to comment on a statement by a political leader that the “Cyprus settlement is close but still far”, Eide recounted the steps made since the negotiations resumed.
“Today it is exactly eight months since the first formal meeting between Akinci and Anastasiades happened,” he outlined. “That was on the 15th of May and they have now been talking in the formal sense for exactly eight months. That has been eight months – in both my and their view – that we’ve talked about this, from difference to more unity.
“A lot of ground has been covered, but it’s very natural, logical and normal that at some stage you come to some of the most difficult issues,” added Eide.
He pointed out that it is important to say that the pace – the direction – is clear and good, “but in this complicated terrain I think it is important that all of us are very clear on that point, but it is clearly within the reach of these two leaders, in my view.”
Eide added his observation is that the commitment of Anastasiades and Akinci to find a solution is very real
and has actually been strengthened in the process.
There are few major issues, he said, adding “but then there are all the details that will follow from these issues. So, we take the time we need, but as the leaders say themselves, we should not lose time, because momentum does not last forever and almost everyone in the (UN Security) Council – actually everyone – was echoing this idea that this historic opportunity must be reached.
“I strongly insist that one of the things we have brought more emphasis on over the last months is the economic aspects of the settlement,” remarked Eide.
“All business leaders I know in Cyprus tell me that the division has a lot of negative costs and that the reunification of the island will open up economic opportunities; which are jobs, prosperity, opportunity and security as well for everyone. To achieve those results, I think it’s important to not only talk to the public institutions but also engage with the national private community,” he added.
Asked whether a way to finance the solution has been found, Eide noted that “that’s a big issue which we’ve been working on for a long time.”
He outlined that he sees a lot of good people thinking about this, very creatively—both about opportunities for public financing but also for private sector capital to be connected to settlement plans, as long-term investments. “I have had concrete discussions with people who are genuinely interested in this,” Eide mentioned.
Asked if this is going to carry another memorandum of understanding and a heavy burden on both communities, Eide pointed out that, “the premise for this is not to leave this to the taxpayers in Cyprus, but that we get real money to pay for the upfront cost.”
Additionally, he said, “people talk about cost as if it’s money you will throw away; but it is actually money that people will get, they will circulate; we assume you will get money—public, private or combination—and a lot of people will get compensation. This money does not go away from Cyprus, but it comes to Cyprus. It’s the other way around; it’s money coming in, not money going out.”
As regards to the cost and benefit of a Cyprus solution that estimates state it will be around 25 billion euros, according to the CNA, Eide made it clear that he has never commented on those figures, because nobody knows. “You can’t know. I can say one thing, every figure I have seen is probably wrong, because it is based on relatively brute calculations without actually knowing all the realities of what the property deal will entail,” he concluded.