A meeting on Cyprus is set to begin in Geneva Tuesday with UN chief Antonio Guterres seeking “common ground” between the parties for the resumption of talks on a lasting solution to the decades-old dispute.
Ahead of the talks, Stephane Dujarric, the spokesman for Guterres, said: "The Secretary-General is realistic. This is an issue that he knows well. He has participated in discussions before. So, he is realistic."
He said Guterres decided to call this "informal meeting" following consultations over the past several months.
"As we have repeatedly said, the purpose of this informal meeting will be to determine whether a common ground exists for the parties to negotiate a lasting solution to the Cyprus issue within a foreseeable horizon," said the UN spokesman.
The meeting will be held from April 27-29 with guarantor countries Turkey, Greece, and the UK.
Dujarric said representing the Greek Cypriot side is Nicos Anastasiades; the Turkish Cypriot side Ersin Tatar; Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu; Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias; UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab and Guterres leading the delegation.
"The Secretary-General will hold separate bilateral meetings with the leaders of the two communities," said Dujarric, noting that Guterres was to hold an informal reception with all the participants.
On Wednesday morning, the UN chief will host at the Palais des Nations a plenary meeting with the five parties.
"He is then expected to hold bilateral meetings with each of those delegations of the five delegations."
An informal dinner would follow on Wednesday evening for the heads of delegations.
The Turkish Cypriot side will be defending the new vision of sovereign equality and two-state cooperation on the island.
Greece and the Greek Cypriot side continue to insist that the solution in Cyprus will be achieved through the "federation" model, which has been negotiated for more than half a century and has not yielded any results.
The Greek side argues that the negotiations should continue where they left off during the Crans Montana talks in 2017.
The Turkish side emphasizes that this is impossible and that the talks in Geneva will decide on what is to be negotiated from now on.
Speaking on the 5+1 format, Dujarric said it "is basically the leaders of the two communities, plus Greece, Turkey, and the United Kingdom. That format is really based on historical precedent."
Cyprus has been mired in a decades-long struggle between the Greek and Turkish Cypriots, despite a series of diplomatic efforts by the UN to achieve a comprehensive settlement.
The island has been divided since 1964, when ethnic attacks forced Turkish Cypriots to withdraw into enclaves for their safety. In 1974, a Greek Cypriot coup aiming at Greece's annexation led to Turkey's military intervention as a guarantor power. The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) was founded in 1983.
The Greek Cypriot administration, backed by Greece, became a member of the European Union in 2004, although most Greek Cypriots rejected a UN settlement plan in a referendum that year, which had envisaged a reunited Cyprus joining the EU.