The novelty value of the informal trileteral meeting of UN Secretary Antonio Guterres, Cyprus President Nikos Anastassiadis and Turkish-Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci convened in Berlin is not just geographical. Until now, the Cyprus issue had been debated (and efforts at a negotiated solution were made) in Zurich or Geneva (or thereabouts: from Burgenstock to Crans-Montana) , or else in New York, or earlier on in London. Is Berlin just a change in venue? Not necessarily!
The meeting of November 25th – N. Anastassiadis and M. Akinci have already accepted; UN Secretary envoy Jane Hall Lute will keep working on preparations: will the much-discussed terms of reference be agreed upon? The symbolic value of a city re-unified, of the Wall that has fallen under the pressure of the people, but also following geopolitical shifts, is evident. But maybe something more will be there: Germany seems to slowly realise it cannot but assume some more responsibilities in the global political scene.
So, German Foreign Minister Haiko Maas was in Turkey, to try and capitalize on Berlin’s historically close diplomatic ties with Ankara so as to make steps towards (a) some sort of pacification following Turkish invasion of North-Eastern Syria and (b) pre-emption of a fully-blown refugee crisis that may well be underway. The Maas proposal that a European-controlled disengagement/buffer zone be established in lieu of the Turkish-Russian one met with almost rude rejection on part of Turkish F.M. Mevlet Cavusoglu. It is from Mr. Cavusoglu that most of the obstacles to the trilateral in Berlin are still arising, since he has been heaping conditions on other conditions for such talks to start in a positive way (a 5+1 meting may well be held in December, in New York with the participation of Turkey and Greece, eventually joined by the EU).
But one last point not to be missed is that Germany is until now the only important Western actor NOT involved in the energy/hudrocarbon game underway in Eastern Med. Might this play out as a positive dimension in the region?