Evaluating the UN Secretary General’s Temporary Consultant on Cyprus Jane Holl Lute’s recent contacts in Cyprus, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Kudret Özersay said: “it is not a proper approach for the Temporary UN Envoy to start preparing a document called reference paper when there is no common vision between the sides and no consensus on what the sides will negotiate. Therefore, it is felt that the document which is said to be prepared up to the end of this year cannot in fact be prepared.”

Özersay continued: “The problem is while there is a difference in views regarding the essence of the issue, in other words, while the sides have different views on what should be negotiated, this is being ignored and at the end of the day, the focus is on issuing a document which everybody will interpret in their own way.”

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Kudret Özersay evaluated the latest developments on the Cyprus issue as well as regional politics during a program he attended on BRT on 25 December 2018, entitled ‘Legal Opinion’.

In his response to a question, Özersay stated that today the institutionalization of state and international organizations has been declining and that the world is a much less predictable world than when compared to ten years ago and added that it also makes it very difficult to make a prediction on the Cyprus issue and foreign policy.

Stating that bilateral relations sometimes may lead to unpredictable results and that sometimes it is possible to pay a very heavy price due to these individual outflows, Özersay said: “For instance; when we look at the factors caused by trade war between the US and China, you can see the same situation, or is it a coincidence that the Kaşıkçı murder is placed at the centre of global politics?

Özersay continued: “When we look at Cyprus at such a period, in the last fifty years it looks like a Sisyphus effort to roll a huge stone up a hill only for it to roll back down again when it nears the top and this is repeated over and over again. There is an interesting situation where success and solution become an exception and failure has become an indication. If we’re going to do a realistic analysis, we have to see it even if we do not like it. Secondly, I see Brexit. In other words, I see one of the guarantor countries, the United Kingdom, in the heart of a debate that even she does not know where it is in order to exit the EU.  Can you imagine a period when the Cyprus problem has been solved and a new order has been created or a crucial stage has been reached in the negotiations, but the UK is not involved in it?  So I think of the role of the British in Zurich and London, or when we had the Birkenstock talks. I know their role in the Greentree talks. I cannot foresee the immediate role of the United Kingdom, which deals with a problem such as Brexit, in the Cyprus issue now. Within this context, I cannot say that there is an expectation that something will happen immediately.

When I look at the EU, I see that Greece or the other actors consider the European Parliament elections to be held next year to be important. France is dealing with a very serious economic and social crisis and I think that this situation will reflect on the EP elections not only in France but in Greece and Germany as well. We are passing through a period in which each government focuses on their internal problems. For example, it should be considered how much sensitivity France and Germany have for the developments experienced in Syria. Can these countries focus on the solution of the Cyprus problem or put forth real effort to move the process further in such an environment?

If we look at the situation from Turkey’s aspect, local elections will be held in Turkey next year. Although these elections are considered unimportant for some people, each election is still extremely important in Turkey due to the changed system which continues to be settled.

There is also the Syria crisis nearby to the island of Cyprus where a hot conflict is being experienced seriously from time to time. Rapid developments are being experienced there. We are passing through a period in which the US withdraws its military from Syria, considers Turkey as a very important and effective ally after a long time and Turkey defines herself a very important role in this region. In such an environment can we really say that we can solve the Cyprus problem at an international conference? I am not sure about it.

Özersay continued: “Jane Holl Lute was appointed as a temporary envoy. UN has a report and the UN Security Council has a decision in which a few steps were defined. Firstly, it should be tested if both sides have a vision towards the future of this island. If there is common vision, then the ‘Terms of Reference’ should be discussed. There is a determination that fully-fledged negotiations can only start at this third stage. I am not alone in thinking that there is no common vision between the two sides today.”

 I think that everyone who looks impartially sees that there is not a common vision between the two sides. Even when a federation is mentioned, we see that the sides think completely differently from each other.  If you listen to the views of the Greek Cypriot Leader regarding our sine qua non political equality and political participation, in relation to participation to the decisions and representation, we are all shocked including our President Mustafa Akıncı. We see that we have understood completely differently for fifty years. This means, there is a problem regarding the common vision.

We have entered into a process in which the communities discuss different issues within the context of vision. Today, AKEL withdrew from the negotiation process due to having a different vision from the Greek Cypriot leader. AKEL withdrew its negotiator from the negotiation team temporarily. Lute has arrived on the island in such an atmosphere but she said that she would prepare ‘Terms of Reference’ until the end of the year without mentioning a common vision. I think that there is not such a possibility until the end of this year. But, if next year, a different atmosphere occurs following ‘EP elections in March, Brexit and Turkey’s elections’, instead of preparing ‘Terms of Reference’ papers, firstly, we should talk about whether we have a common vision or not. If we do not reach an agreement from the beginning on how a partnership will be established, I think that the result is clear. The Turkish Cypriots will be disappointed. The Turkish Cypriot side should insist on resumption of the negotiations after making clear that there is a common vision. It should be clarified if we really want to establish a partnership. If we do not desire the same partnership, firstly, we should either accept or express this reality or we should take steps to harmonize this. This is the first issue which should be resolved.”