Athens – In spite of the fact that the problem of Cyprus is in substance a problem of foreign invasion and occupation, intercommunal talks is are standard diplomatic procedure for dealing with this problem. The main reason for that is of course the adamant refusal of Ankara to carry on any direct negotiations with its victim, Cyprus, and admit that the problem is in reality an issue of unjustified occupation rather than a bi-communal matter between Cypriot communities. The ongoing intercommunal negotiations between the minority Turkish Cypriot community of 18% and the majority Greek Cypriot community of 80% are under the auspices of the UN General Secretary Ban Ki Moon. The Secretary General has appointed a special representative on Cyprus Mr Espen Barth Eide, an ex Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Defence, to represent him and to mediate between the two sides for facilitating the progress of the negotiations. Certainly, his role is not an easy one; also others claim that is not so much of an impartial one. He has been accused, several times, by the Greek side for pro-Turkish positions and declarations. We asked Dr Υannis Voudouris, Assistant Professor Department of Law at Frederick University of Cyprus and specialist on matters of Mediation and European Union Law, to give us his opinion on the way that Mr Espen Barth Eide is conducting his role in Cyprus. On this occasion, we asked his legal opinion as regards the substance of those negotiations and the problem of Cyprus. In particular, we asked him also to comment on the demand of the Turkish side to establish permanent derogations from the acquis communautaire, which is the core base of the legal order of the European Union. His answers and comments present a great interest.
Professor Yannis Voudouris, you are teaching EU Law in the Frederic University of Cyprus, also you are specialised in Mediation and Mediation Techniques, including also mediation in international problems. What is your opinion on the role of Mr Espen Barth Eide, the Norwegian Special Representative on the Cyprus problem of the General Secretary of the United Nations? Do you think that he is playing, in a fair way, his role as mediator? He has been attacked recently by the Cypriot press misusing his role and siding in favour of a pro-Turkish and against EU solution.
To answer this, first I believe that it will be useful to be informed about some basics about mediation process itself; so kindly allow me to explain some key matters about the nature of mediation to your readers. Generally speaking, any mediation is a genuinely delicate process. Likewise, the task of mediator is very demanding: A mediator must organise an effective mediation by combining fair process, understanding the parties’ wishes and motives and the get to the bottom of the nature of the At the same time a mediator explores and tests solutions. Personal agenda, policy objectives, politics as well as the legal and regulatory landscape may influence each aspect and at the same time may jeopardise the whole process. You see, the goal of an established Mediator is to find resolution that would be acceptable from the parties. Here is where the personality of the mediator comes in: Wherein he must encourage and keep whatever is good and useful and distinguish it from the unimportant, the secondary or the minor. It is a skilful and legal exercise that calls for management, prioritisation, sustainability and most of all for Justice. I believe that a skilled mediator must first serve justice, stepping in whenever it is necessary and avoid being just a pale compromiser. This is written on any Mediation textbook: Any distinguished mediator is the one that inspires trust to the parties; yet his work is historically appreciated as long as he supports this role and serves the fundamental concepts of justice. As mediator, on the one hand, he will definitely allow compromises, on the other, he must encourage only viable solutions. Yet, a viable solution is a fair solution, the just-one. In this context, I cannot even begin to imagine that a UN (level) mediator lacks any of the above qualities for the work he is committed to accomplish. Moreover, we have to have in mind that -again this comes from mediation textbooks – should the parties are not satisfied with the performance or impartiality of the mediator, or even the trust he inspires, may ask for his replacement. Simple as that. Now, of course, the Greek Cypriot negotiation team consists from experienced and respectable persons, which are in constant contact with the Cypriot government as well as the Council of the Cypriot political parties. Therefore if any of the disputing parties are may be dissatisfied (e.g. by the manner Mediation process is conducted, may declare so; hence I cannot easily accept accusation of bias although I admit that I do not hold detailed data to conclude an verified analysis on the matter.
How do you see on your part, as a specialized scientist, the negotiations that are going in Cyprus? Do you think that is probable to arrive soon to some conclusion?
This is indeed a very difficult question to answer. Two months ago, we had the honour to host the chief negotiator of the Cypriot government in a dedicated event that was held here in Frederick University, where he too stressed the difficulty of the matter; yet I feel that the overall spirit, say the will of the leaders and will of the people is aspiring towards an acceptable solution.
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