In the first phase, Maria Angela Holguín Cuellar chose to record what her interlocutors had to say and mainly she wanted to take notes with what each side had to say. The people who were present at the meetings of the UN Secretary General's envoy, the first thing they keep is that the selection of Holgin cannot be considered just by chance and the first sample of writing is that she will work methodically to create the conditions so that when a process begins to be successful.
Holguin's familiarization trip to the island (and then this week to the capitals of the three guarantors and to Brussels) also showed what the intentions of the Secretary General of the United Nations are. Through his envoy Antonio Guterres wanted to send a message to all parties involved. That he starts an effort from which he himself expects a result. The result in this case will be no other than being able to reach an agreement to start the process of bringing the two sides back to the process of talks. Or more simply to find common ground.
Clarify the status once and for all
Going back two years when the effort to appoint an envoy began, a confrontation between the two sides is recorded whether he will have the title of “personal envoy of the General Secretary” or “special envoy». With the Greek Cypriot side standing by the definition “personal envoy” as this automatically meant that he would move within the framework determined by the decisions of the United Nations Security Council. While on the other hand the Turkish side was constantly looking for a definition that would give it a push to lead the whole process outside the framework defined by the resolutions of the United Nations.
Despite his initial moves, which primarily satisfied the tactics of the Turkish side, the Secretary General of the United Nations during the meetings he had in the last half of 2023 with the two sides was sufficiently clear as to the status that the hisenvoy. First, in the demand of the Turkish side to address the Security Council to request a change in the terms of mandate in the Cyprus issue, Antonio Guterres clarified that both he and those acting on behalf of the United Nations are subject to the terms of mandate determined by the Security Council and not the opposite. So what the Turkish side demanded could not be satisfied. Secondly, the above position of the Secretary General was also the answer he gave to the Greek Cypriot side in order to reassure its concerns regarding the status of the envoy. Underlining at the same time that even the UN officials Yetzia-DiCarlowho visited the island and had periodic meetings with the two leaders did not move outside the framework defined by the resolutions of the Security Council.
The whole matter comes to be clarified definitively with the appointment of Maria Ángel Holguín Quellar. Both with the announcement of the United Nations and with the recent decision of the Security Council on the renewal of UNFICYP, it is explicitly stated that it is a “Secretary-General's Personal Envoy” which ” will undertake a good service role on his behalf». And in this way he closes a long and counterproductive discussion which could be closed very early.
It is not from a machine god
A series by envoys or representatives of the General Secretary appeared as from machine godswho believed that they could impose what they themselves consider an “agreement” or a “solution” in order to close the Cyprus issue and end it. And they acted without regard for the sensitivities or concerns of either side. There and where the positions were opposite to theirs they argued that this had to do with the lack of will/will for a solution to the Cyprus problem. Their common feature was that none of them had experience similar to the Cyprus negotiations and had not faced similar difficulties.
Maria Ángel Holguín Cuéllar starts from a completely different starting point as she was part of a process similar to the Cyprus one that eventually led to the end of a 50-year conflict in Colombia with millions of dead. Holguín participated in the Colombian peace talks which resulted in an agreement ending the civil war in the country.
Her experience helps her in two directions: to understand the difficulties of a process like the Cyprus issue and how in order to achieve progress, every step needs to be done with care and to be ready to exploit even the smallest window of opportunity. What pushed the peace process in Colombia and paved the way for an agreement was the Obama administration's partial change of attitude toward Cuba.
A process intertwined with progress
In this her first visit to the island, Holgin sought to hear the parties involved, what they have to say, what they support and what they believe about how the effort in the Cyprus issue can proceed. It is expected that she will return in a month, that is, within the first ten days of March, properly prepared to try to push things forward.
She is both herself and her interlocutors (at least on the Greek Cypriot side ) understood that restarting a process is interrelated with our prospect of success. The assessment that exists is that he will work so that with proper preparation the whole effort will begin in a way that strengthens and increases the chances of success.
She let it be seen that she and by extension the Secretary General of the United Nations want when it becomes possible to start a new effort in Cyprusto have a high degree of possible success. It should not be a process which at the end of the road will end up where it is today. What the United Nations is showing is that it does not want an effort or a process that will ultimately confirm that any negotiation is impossible, but on the contrary they want a process that lays the groundwork for negotiation.
As for the time frame for which it seems the Turkish side will insist, what comes out of the Holgin contacts is that the United Nations side – at least at this stage – has no intention of putting any timetable for the end of the efforts.
Aid without intervention
From the information so far it appears that the Secretary General's envoy will be left to work alone with her own team without Colin Stewartto seek to have involvement and role. The special representative of the Secretary-General in Cyprus seems to be acting as a support in the whole effort and will remain focused on the duties of the political head of UNFICYP. Besides, maintaining calm in the dead zone will be a helpful factor in the whole process. And that is where K. Stewart wants to work. Unlike its predecessor, which sought to have a direct involvement and a leading role in the whole effort.
No change was noted in Pyla and Agios Dometio
The situation as it had developed both in Pyla and in the area of Agios Dometios (house of Mary) remains as it was and nothing has changed. The reaction of the Turkish side to what was agreed in the case of Pyla had the effect of stopping all work in the area of the mixed village and since then things have remained as they were without any prospect of the situation changing. Despite initial estimates, mainly by the United Nations, that the work that had begun would progress in a short period of time, eventually things stalled in a way that may ultimately be convenient for both sides.
In resolution 2723 Nicosia managed, after intense mobilization, to have a satisfactory report on the issue of Pyla. The resolution recalls the statement of 21 August 2023 condemning the attacks against the peacekeeping force, welcomed the involvement of the special representative to reach an agreement and expresses a solution to the cessation of operations, while urging all parties concerned to cooperate constructively with UNFICYP for the implementation of the agreement on Pyla.
As far as Agios Dometios is concerned, what is recorded is that the Turkish side did not make any move to remove what it had placed in the “house of Mary” despite the indications and messages of the United Nations, but also the declarations of the Republic of Cyprus. The situation remains as it has been for several weeks.