Speaking Wednesday evening at a panel discussion in Limassol, titled “Planning Our European Future”, Eide said that there is a unique moment of opportunity and people have to grasp it together, pointing out “you cannot leave it just to politicians”.
Now there is a moment of opportunity, a window of opportunity that has to be used not only to get to any deal but get to a good deal and this opportunity may be the best one we have, as Cyprus and as UN, UNSG Special Envoy for Cyprus Espen Barth Eide has said.
“I strongly urge Cypriot leaders and all the Cypriots to make sure you think of the economic viability of the solution, because you are creating a Federal Cyprus that works economically, that creates opportunities for further goals. It also my sense that today in this climate, where stars are aligned, is that Turkey also wants a solution. I know Turkey very well, I know all the top leaders in Turkey from my previous jobs and I feel very strongly that they also want to reach to a solution”, Eide said.
Eide made special reference to the fact that the event was taking place in Limassol saying that this is the town where the two leaders in Cyprus had dinner last May. “I want to share with you that in that dinner, I immediately sensed during the first minutes that in front of me they were two leaders who were ready to change the future of Cyprus. In all the meetings we had, formal and social, I can say that this has been confirmed”, he pointed out.
UNSG Special Envoy pointed out many times in his speech that there is a moment of historic opportunity adding that “the stars are aligned and between the leaders there is trust and there is a will on both sides to really address this issue”.
He expressed the hope that hopefully he will be able to contribute as someone who is here to help, adding that it is up to Cypriots to solve the Cyprus problem and that nobody else really can. Eide also said that the two leaders, President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci, need support from all the people, academics, people from the business community, the Media and the civil society.
“There is a lot of work remaining. I think we will make it but I don’t know and I want to be very honest about that. Great things have been achieved but a lot of work remains before the two leaders will be able to come out and say we have a deal that we will present to the people”, Eide said.
He added that when that happens the people will be asked and every citizen has one vote. “At that time you cannot start asking what is actually a Federation, what do the Greek Cypriots or Turkish Cypriots do. You have to start thinking now. It is a democratic choice. It’s the people of Cyprus who have to make up their mind and that requires a solid democratic debate, which is why being together with you tonight is very important and there should be more meetings like this”, SG Special Adviser pointed out.
Addressing the panel Eide said that people cannot leave the solution up to the politicians and that “they need to take this in their own hands”.
“You need to support the people that want to solve the problem, you also need to challenge them, you also have to expect things from them and engage with each other to think about what is this”, he said.
In his speech Eide also said that Cypriots may be very close to writing a new Constitution and that we cannot write a Constitution for the past, because the past is over. “You can only write a Constitution for the future because that’s the only you can control. Here is my challenge. If you write a Constitution in the 21st century – and there are not many of them – it must look like it comes from the 21st century. You cannot write a Constitution in 2015 or 2016 and looks like it was written in 1960 or 1972 or even 2004. It must look like it is written now”, he said.
UN Special Envoy also pointed out that it is difficult not to be optimistic when you come out of meetings where you see real progress. “There is also a long way to go though, it is not a done deal, it is not over, the leaders need encouragement, need to feel that they are on the right track and the leaders need also fresh inspiring ideas, precisely because it is going well. Now there is a moment of opportunity, a window of opportunity that has to be used not only to get to any deal but get to a good deal. This opportunity may be the best one we have, as Cyprus and as UN”, he said.