Turkish Cypriot daily Halkin Sesi newspaper (17.01.16) reports that Espen Barth Eide, UN Secretary-General’s Special Adviser for Cyprus,has said that a referendum for the solution of the Cyprus problem could be held this year and added that it would be a pity if this “historic opportunity” was wasted.
In statements to the paper’s correspondent in New York Ozlem Sahin Sakar, Eide noted that he does not want to create the climate that a solution will be reached very soon, but he wondered: “If Mr Akinci and Mr Anastasiades do not achieve the creation of a united Cyprus, who else could do this?”
Responding to a question as to whether progress could be achieved on the property issue in order for a referendum to be held within this year, Eide said:
“Yes, this could happen. […] Of course we want the solution to be reached the soonest, but we do not want to put emphasis on time tables. The important thing is not in which month this will happen, whether it will be in this month on in the other, but to be able to come to this point. The acceleration gained eight months ago is still there, […] but it will not be there forever. Now there is a historic opportunity from the point of view of the support of the sides to the two leaders and the great interest and support of the international community to the Cyprus problem […]”.
Eide explained that he cannot give a date on when a solution could be reached, because when you give a date, this date “starts to control the agenda”. “And this is something which we do not want to happen”, he added.
Replying to a question, the UN diplomat said that he is focused more on the economic aspect of the problem in comparison to his predecessors and explained that his aim is “to secure that the solution will be not only a political success for the Cypriots, but also an economic one”.
He pointed out that the non-solution has a cost and added that he is certain that many international investors will be interested to come to a united Cyprus. He recalled the cooperation between the businessmen of the two communities and noted that they told him that they lose money because of the division of the island.
He expressed the view that the Cypriot identity is culturally very strong on the island in spite of the religious and linguistic differences and therefore the two communities could live on the island together without any problems.
Eide said that he feels that the Turkish Cypriots want a solution to the Cyprus problem. “There are many people who want the end of this division on the island”, he noted.
Asked whether there would be a meeting between the community leaders, the UNSG and the guarantor powers in Davos this week, Eide recalled that the two leaders would meet with the UNSG adding that no meeting with the guarantor powers was planned, because “such a meeting would be held only when the time is right” and “we did not think that the time was right for such a meeting”. He added that the Cyprus problem will be one of the issues discussed in Davos by political leaders, academicians, businessmen and NGO leaders. “There is a great interest for this problem and not only by the state, but by the business circles as well”, he noted.
Asked what the problem will be if the leaders meet with the guarantor powers, Eide replied: “I do not keep anyone from meeting with anyone. Those who want to meet will meet. However, I am not organizing such a meeting. The Davos meeting is a private meeting and not a UN General Assembly meeting […]”.