UN Secretary Generals Special Adviser on Cyprus Espen Barth Eide said on Saturday that Cypriots have to make a choice of whether they believe that they are stronger together or stronger divided and that choice should be made reasonably soon.
Eide, who was replying to CNA questions at Buyuk Han, in Turkish occupied Nicosia, where he met with a group of friends, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, who meet every Saturday morning for coffee there, stressed the role civil society in general can play in speaking up in favour of a solution.
“I think if people believe in a solution in Cyprus this is the moment to speak up in favour of it, because frankly I am worried that things are not going as well as they used to do a few months ago,” Eide said.
He added that “we dont have an eternity of time and I would not only leave it to the leaders.”
According to the UN official “the leaders are essential, but they also need support from society at large.”
“People should think about what choice they want to make at the end of the day,” he said.
“Do they believe that they are stronger together or do they believe that they are stronger divided,” he added, pointing out that “that is a choice for each Cypriot.”
“They have to make up their mind and that choice should be made reasonably soon.”
Called on to comment on the importance of civil society in pushing the process forward Eide said that “now that the leaders are not meeting I think that it is even more important that those people in the Cypriot society, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots who want this to work, actually speak up in favour of it.”
“Because it has become a little quiet on the negotiation front but that is no reason not to organise civil society,” he added.
Being here of course, Eide continued, “is a pleasurable way to spend a Saturday. It is a lovely group of people.”
These people, he noted, “have met every Saturday since the crossings opened, I know them well, I come here often and what you can be assured of is that these people do not leave the table before they agree to.”
“They are always here on Saturday and there is always a good climate and it is nice to meet people who are genuinely working towards a settlement,” he pointed out.
Asked whether he would like to see them take this friendly conversation further, Eide said that this gathering in Buyuk Han “is a coffee club of people who like to speak to each other.” “I would not want to see them turning into an organisation I dont think that is what they want to do,” he added.
However, he noted, “there are a lot of other platforms, organisations and not only the usual suspects, also business organisations, trade unions, civil society organisations, religious organisations that are engaged.”
Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. UN led talks between the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot communities resumed in May 2015 with a view to reunite the island under a federal roof.
The talks were interrupted in mid February by the Turkish Cypriot side, which demands that a decision passed by the Cypriot Parliament relating to a 1950 referendum on union with Greece is revoked, claiming this indicates a shift in the Greek Cypriot sides goal for a federal solution. The amendment provides that there will be a very brief reference to the referendum at schools.
President Anastasiades has described the House decision as wrong and called on the leader of the Turkish Cypriot side, Mustafa Akinci, who walked out of the talks, to return to the negotiating table to discuss pending issues with a view to reaching a mutually acceptable agreement to reunite the country.
Source: Cyprus News Agency