Cyprus: Chill the Champagne

Now that UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has got the parties talking again, is it time to open the champagne? Not exactly. After all, this is Cyprus; and no one has yet lost money betting against a settlement. The scope for delay and prevarication, for misunderstandings feeding old suspicions, for zero-sum calculations causing negotiations to bog down, is considerable.

The World Today
4 minute READ

David Hannay

Crossbench Life Peer, House of Lords, Parliament of the United Kingdom

While no one, certainly not Annan, is saying that there is absolutely no possibility of adjusting the latest version of his plan, it is important to realise that the wiggle room is very modest if renewed deadlock is to be avoided. As Annan himself has put it, the choice is not between his plan and another, better one, it is between his plan and no plan. That plan is not something being imposed on Cypriots by outsiders, as was the case with the 1960 independence settlement: it is the fruit of thirty years of persistent negotiation with the leaders of the two sides of Cyprus by successive Secretary-Generals, from Perez de Cuellar through Boutros Ghali.

It is almost precisely a year since the Cyprus negotiators emerged from the Peace Palace in The Hague into a dank, cold March dawn and admitted that the UN’s Cyprus peace process had, once again, hit the buffers.

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