UN Envoy Eide Accused of Turkish Propaganda in Cyprus Unity Talks

U.N. Special Advisor of the Secretary-General Espen Barth Eide (L). (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)

NICOSIA – United Nations Special Adviser Espen Barth Eide is pushing Turkey’s side in the collapsed unity talks to reunify Cyprus, the leader of the island’s centrist DIKO party said.

Nicolas Papadopoulos said Eide, whose constant upbeat predictions of a deal have all been dashed, was “repeating Turkish propaganda” by claiming it was up to the Cypriots to come up with a solution, not Turks who have occupied the northern third since an unlawful 1974 invasion.

Papadopoulos was responding to a report in Phileleftheros citing sources saying that Eide had made the comment to a group of foreign ambassadors at a background briefing in Nicosia, the Cyprus Mail said.

The UN envoy was said to have been talking about the Cypriot Parliament’s approval of a measure to allow an annual commemoration of a 1950 referendum seeking Enosis, or unity with Greece.

That passed after Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades’ party members abstained. He’s now said the measure was a mistake but he didn’t try to stop it by directing his MPs to vote against it.

“It appears that the special envoy of the UN Secretary-General in Cyprus… is the only person in Europe who does not consider problematic the behavior of Turkey, and who repeats Turkish propaganda,” the Diko leader said.

“Unfortunately, some appear to have given ammunition to Mr. Eide to repeat the familiar narrative, that the non-solution of the Cyprus problem is not Turkey responsibility but the Greek Cypriots,” Papadopoulos said.

“The current stalemate is not due to any decision of the House. It is due solely to the intransigence of Turkey,” he added. “For this reason, we believe that a new strategy is needed because our old strategy has led to a dead end.”

Turkish-Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci walked away from the talks over the vote as well as his insistence Turkey be allowed to keep a 30,000-strong army on the island along with the right to militarily intervene when it wants, as it did in 1974.

According to the Phileleftheros article, during the briefing to foreign ambassadors in the buffer zone Eide appeared to be worried about the impasse although, as always, was simultaneously confident of a reboot.

He reportedly said this would not just be another failed attempt at solving the Cyprus issue like in the past, and put forward some “negative scenarios” he did not elaborate on, the paper said.

Phileleftheros also said the UN envoy had asked other parties, including Anastasiades’, to push for the vote to be recanted to get Akinci back to the bargaining table.

EU Commission President Jean Claude Juncker is due to meet Eide on March 23. Commission Spokesman Alexander Winterstein said that, “We should know how close the reunification is to the President’s heart, how closely he was involved, for a long time and how open his communication channels are to all parties and players in this process, so this visit is part of this process of the president being involved, but I cannot tell you today exactly what will be discussed.”