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    Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades attend the Cyprus reunification talks at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, January 12, 2017.

    Next Geneva Talks on Cyprus May Take Place in Mid-June - UN Special Adviser

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    A referendum on Cyprus reunification is possible and both communities may even vote for a federal state if Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades can tell Greek Cypriots that a security solution has been found, UN Secretary-General's Special Adviser for Cyprus Espen Barth Eide told Sputnik.

    NICOSIA (Sputnik) — On Thursday, Anastasiades also told Sputnik that a new referendum was possible, but only if the sides could agree on security and territorial concerns. The last UN-backed referendum was held in 2004 and reunification was backed by the Turkish side but rejected by the Greek Cypriot side.

    "I think so. I even dare to say that I think that it will be 'yes' on both sides, but only if Anastasiades has to say 'we now have a federal sate' and will tell his people that it will work, will [be an] efficient functional state in which all can thrive and prosper, that it will be secure without guarantor system of Turkish guaranties," Eide said when responding to a question on whether a referendum on the reunification of Cyprus is possible.

    The last Geneva conference took place in February and ended abruptly when Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci left a bilateral meeting with Anastasiades in protest to Cypriot parliament's decision to initiate school celebrations commemorating the 1950 referendum that sought union of the island with Greece.

    On Thursday, Сypriot President Nicos Anastasiades told Sputnik that security, including the withdrawal of Turkish troops, and territorial concerns remained the biggest issues on the agenda and that no progress had been made on them.

    Anastasiades noted that the sides had been able, however, to move forward on governance, distribution of power, economy and property, but stressed that there was no need to continue discussing these topics if there was no progress on security and territory.

    Another Round of Geneva Talks

    The sides to the Cyprus settlement talks agree that it is time to hold another round of Geneva talks and this may be scheduled for as early as the middle of June, Espen Barth added.

    "They do agree already, as of last week, that it is time to reconvene Geneva, they do agree that it is time to wrap [up] everything we discussed, they do agree that it could be done in a couple of weeks because we are not talking of a greenfield, all the issues are well known, thoroughly presented, thoroughly discussed, criticized, moderated, improved… So the positive scenario now is that they get an agreement on Geneva… so they will set the date, let’s say, in the middle of June, just to say something," Eide said.

    According to the UN special adviser, the two sides have a clear idea of what problems must be solved, but they had some disagreements over the order in which the issues had to be tackled.

    "So there is no big mystery on most chapters. If there is anything that we do not know it is really the security and guarantee chapter… But we know all the chapters. We either have solved them, or we know that we will solve them, or we have not solved them but the sides know what they need and what they can do… The problem now is that they so far are not agreed on the modalities, the sequence and how different issues depend on each other," Eide said.

    The special adviser added that Turkish Cypriots were willing to discuss security and guarantees first, but only on condition that they could return to this topic later, after the other issues were discussed.

    "[Сyprus' President Nicos] Anastasiades wants the securities and guarantees first, but Akinci is happy to do the security and guarantees first. They could do that. However [Mustafa Akinci, Turkish Cypriot leader] is not ready to say we will wrap it up and close that. Because he is happy to pen the chapter and spent time on it and discuss it, but he says 'I might not be ready to give you the final answers before I see what is happening on other chapters'," Eide said.

    No proposal has been made to change the format of the UN talks of Cyprus settlement in Geneva with more involvement by the UN Security Council as it is already deeply engaged, Espen Barth Eide told Sputnik.

    "There is actually no proposal to change the format [of the Geneva conference]. The UN Security Council, in a sense, is constantly there because the Council follows this [conference]… I brief the P5 [permanent members] separately and also the full council. The P5 very often, the Council on more formal occasions. I also want to use the opportunity to convey my gratitude for the support to Russia. So the Council is there. The Council is not sitting in the room, but the Council is constantly involved in everything we do," Eide said.

    The last Geneva talks on Cyprus took place in February and ended abruptly when Akinci left a bilateral meeting with Anastasiades in protest to Cypriot parliament's decision to initiate school celebrations commemorating the 1950 referendum that sought union of the island with Greece. The next round could start as early as in two weeks, according to the UN adviser.

    Greek and Turkish Positions on Cyprus Settlement

    Greece and Turkey are unlikely to change their positions on Cyprus settlement before the conference in Geneva, which remains the only platform where a change of stance may be expected, Espen Barth Eide noted.

    In early April, Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci held a bilateral meeting organized by Eide, agreeing to resume settlement talks and scheduling four meetings for April and May.

    "I don't expect either side [Greece and Turkey to change] their position prior to the conference. The only place to change it is on the conference… So you need to get to Geneva. You need to create the right ambiance, to find the right moment and then through this building of the alternative for the security we gradually come to a point where we can expect change, for instance, in the Turkish position," Eide said.

    According to the UN special adviser, the Turkish Cypriots would not want to see Turkey's position change if they did not have security guarantees first.

    "When I say security, I mean security of individuals for a life and property, the security of community which means identity, that I can still belong to Turkish Cypriot community and I still will be able to speak Turkish, I still can go to Turkish Cypriot cultural events, and the security of state," Eide said.

    The island nation has been divided since 1974, when the Turkish forces occupied the northern part of the island and proclaimed the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC).

    Constitutional Guarantees for Cyprus

    Constitutional guarantees for Cyprus, such as federal police, laws against violence between different communities, coupled with international oversight from the United Nations, might provide a viable alternative solution to the security problem that Turkish and Greek local communities are struggling to solve, Cyprus Espen Barth Eide underlined.

    "In our thinking the solid constitutional guarantees, the solid law and order, federal police, legal system, intelligence service, laws against hate speech and intercommunal violence etc. and some kind of international oversight, maybe on the UN auspices… this could be the alternative which would be good enough for the Turkish Cypriots to say bye-bye to the Turkish guarantees. But still also OK for the Greek Cypriots that this is something [they] can live with," Eide said.

    The special adviser said the United Nations hopes for the sides to realize the need for an alternative solution to the security guarantees problem on withdrawing troops from the island as a result of dialogue.

    "In my view the Greek Cypriots should tell the Turkish Cypriot that we emphasize and we recognize that you have a problem, but we don't like solution to that problem. And the Turkish Cypriot could say fine, I am glad you recognized our problem what is you proposing alternative. So what I am hoping is that the conversation would say we might change this thing about guaranties and troops but help us to develop the alternative response to our problem," he said.

    talks, UN, Nicos Anastasiades, Cyprus, Geneva
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