“DEVASTATED” was how one Turkish Cypriot attending the Cyprus conference in Crans-Montana described his feelings after a drama-filled day and night culminated in United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres declaring bleakly in the early hours of yesterday: “It's over.”
The reaction of this delegate, close to tears, was no over-statement, and reflected the mood among many – both in Switzerland and on the island – who had vested so much emotion and energy in the much-hyped international process, only to see their hopes dashed once again.
And they are not alone in their frustration. Few, regardless of their attitude to the peace process or their vision for Cyprus's future, will relish the prospect of yet more uncertainty and a tense summer ahead, with key July anniversaries and controversial Greek Cypriot hydrocarbons prospecting likely to be more highly charged than ever.
The extent to which that future includes more peace negotiations remains to be seen. The weariness of Mr Guterres was palpable, as he made his 3am announcement, and it is not clear whether his special envoy, whose role ends soon, will be replaced. There is clear dismay all round at having snatched defeat from the jaws of victory in what was seen as the “best chance in generations” to strike a peace deal.
Moreover, this latest setback comes at a time of huge pressure on UN resources, with the Trump administration threatening a squeeze on contributions and ever more claims on the global body.
Cyprus, where the troubles are effectively long over, could begin to come lower on its priority list.
The “perils of no Plan B” are highlighted elsewhere in this paper, but they hold as true for the UN as for the EU, at which the other comments were aimed.
With Plan A once more in tatters, it's surely time to think again about a modus vivendi that can accommodate the two sides' desires and fears and ensure their peaceful co-existence.
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