The informal 5+1 meeting on the Cyprus problem is scheduled to take place during the first week of March, most probably at Greentree in New York. However the UN Secretary – General, Antonio Guterres, is the one who is expected to take the final decisions on the exact date and the venue where the meeting will take place, taking into consideration the situation as regards the COVID -19 pandemic.
Cyprus Foreign Minister, Nikos Christodoulides, told the Cyprus News Agency (CNA) that the UN have informed them that they are considering two possible dates during the first week of March for holding the conference. “We expect from the UN Secretary – General to take the final decisions which shall be officially communicated to the interested parties,” Christodoulides noted.
He expressed the belief that Guterres may now expect the deliberations for the adoption by the UN Security Council of the resolution on the renewal of the UN peacekeeping force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) mandate to wrap up, in order to take his decisions about the informal meeting immediately afterwards and inform the interested parties.
As regards the duration of the informal meeting, the Foreign Minister said that according to information it will last for three days. However, Christodoulides noted that no one can prejudge any developments and whether the UNSG will ask the participants to stay longer.
Moreover, he said that the three guarantor powers, namely Greece, Turkey and the UK, are expected to be represented at the informal meeting by their Foreign Ministers. He noted that he is in contact, among others, with his British counterpart, Dominic Raab, who may pay a visit to Cyprus during the next period of time for discussions in the framework of preparations for the informal meeting.
As regards the EU, which Cyprus joined as a full member in 2004, taking into consideration what happened in the past, Christodoulides said that the Union may be represented at the meeting by its High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell. Moreover, he noted that Borrell, whom he met on Tuesday in Brussels, told him that he may visit Cyprus before the informal meeting, in the framework of preparations aiming at the best possible results.
“There is an assessment that the current circumstances are favourable and we hope that they will lead to concrete positive results and will last. One thing that is sure is that the settlement of the Cyprus problem is a priority for the EU, and this was conveyed to me clearly,” Christodoulides noted.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. The latest UN backed round of talks took place in 2017, in the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana, but failed to yield any results.