UN Envoy Hopes to Resurrect Collapsed Cyprus Unity Talks

FILE - Greek Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades (L) left, arrives with Special Adviser to the United Nations Secretary-General on Cyprus Espen Barth Eide. (Salvatore Di Nolfi/Pool Photo via AP)

NICOSIA – After saying he was losing hope, United Nations Special Envoy Espen Barth Eide will meet the rival leaders of Cyprus in a bid to get them back to the bargaining table after unity talks collapsed.

Espen Barth Eide on March 15 said he would meet Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish-Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci separately and is meeting with civil society leaders and others involved in the talks.

Those fell apart over Turkish demands to keep its army on the island and after Cyprus’ Parliament – with Anastasiades’ majority party abstaining – approved a measure to allow an annual teaching of the 1950 referendum seeking unity, or Enosis, with Greece.

In an interview with the Cyprus News Agency (CNA) Eide noted that steps are being taken to bring the leaders back to the negotiating table, but refused to say what they are as he continues to issue statements without details after being accused of deliberately hiding the truth about the failed efforts.

“It takes two to tango and requires some will of mutual accommodation,” he pointed out, and expressed some worry whether a structured process can be achieved once the leaders return to the dialogue.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. UN led talks between Anastasiades and Akinci have been going on for 22 months with both sides constantly predicting breakthroughs and great progress while simultaneously saying there were big obstacles to be overcome and warning of failures.

Earlier, the usually bubbly and upbeat Eide unusually showed unhappiness over the lack of progress after he and Akinci and Anastasiades kept saying there was plenty.

“Trust is also needed and I am convinced that if it does not exist in the leadership level it is difficult to substitute it somewhere else,” he told CNS.

“I think if people believe in a solution in Cyprus this is the moment to speak up in favor of it, because frankly I am worried that things are not going as well as they used to do a few months ago,” he added.

He said time is running out and the issue of the negotiations should not be left only to the two leaders.
“There are some steps that are being taken and I think they are probably more successful if I do not spell them out.”