High-level talks in the Swiss Alpine resort of Crans-Montana hit a brick wall in the early hours of Friday morning with no deal on a strategic agreement that could have paved the way for a comprehensive settlement of the decades-old Cyprus problem decades-old Cyprus problem. After a second visit to the resort by UN Secretary-General (UNSG) Antonio Guterres and tough negotiations followed by dinner, the Cyprus leaders, the guarantor powers Greece, Turkey and the UK, as well as the EU as an observer, were unable to find a deal on the key issues.
“I am deeply sorry to inform you … that the Conference on Cyprus was closed without an agreement being reached,” the UNSG said in the early hours of Friday morning.
“The Conference was closed without the possibility to bring a solution to this dramatically longlasting problem,” he added.
In answer to questions about whether there would be a continuation of the negotiations, he said: “Conference is closed. That does not mean that other initiatives cannot be developed in order to address the Cyprus problem but this conference was closed unfortunately without result.”
Earlier on Thursday the UN had put forward a draft proposal on the key issues relating to security, territory, property, governance and the rights of Turkish nationals in a united Cyprus on Thursday.
The draft included a recommendation that the participants – the Cyprus leaders, the guarantor powers Greece, Turkey and the UK, as well as the EU as an observer – should discuss a ‘sunset clause’ (a final date for the withdrawal of Turkish troops).
Sources confirmed to the Cyprus Weekly that there was a draft, but that they were unable to reach agreement.
Having earlier demanded that it wanted to see a firm commitment from the Greek Cypriots on ‘Table 2’ (where domestic issues are being discussed), Turkey toughened its stance, asking for 1,800 soldiers to be stationed permanently on the island, according to Cyprus Weekly sources. It declined to discuss a review of troops or a sunset clause – a red line for Republic of Cyprus president Nicos Anastasiades.
At the same time, the Turkish Cypriots offered only a part of the area of Morphou that Anastasiades wants to see returned.
On Wednesday Anastasiades had made a proposal “to break the impasse”, as he put it, at ‘Table 1’ – the first table on security, making moves on a rotating presidency, Turkish Cypriot votes in federal bodies, property and Turkish presence in an international force.
His offers depended on various moves from Turkey, including the abolition of guarantees and intervention rights, a drastic reduction of troops from the first day, the full withdrawal of troops and the return of Morphou to Greek Cypriot control.
However, Turkey wanted a firm commitment on domestic issues before making any moves on security.
On Thursday night UNSG Guterres hosted a dinner with all the heads of delegation in what seems to have been the last throw of the dice before he and the other delegations leave early Friday morning. The UNSG’s presence was seen as critical, and it is not clear if the talks are completely over or if there will be another effort to salvage them in the future.
Facing criticism from some party leaders, Anastasiades called in a tweet on Thursday night for “calm and patience”. “I do know the boundaries within which I can negotiate. A lot of what is being deliberately spread around does not apply,” he said.
Rumours that Anastasiades had left the dinner at around 11pm Swiss time were denied by multiple sources.
Referring to Anastasiades’ proposal on Wednesday, an insider told the Cyprus Weekly: “It will either open the way to a solution with provisions that are described in the proposal or, if this effort fails, that no one can put the blame on him.”