Just before Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades ripped him for being biased in favor of Turkey in talks to reunify the island, United Nations Special Envoy Espen Barth Eide said other options he wouldn’t name could be put on the table if the negotiations fail.
Eide, whose constant predictions of an imminent breakthrough in two years of talks all were wrong, is pushing Anastasiades and Turkish-Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci to reach a deal at almost any cost and end frustration in finding a solution that has evaded more than two dozen envoys, diplomats and politicians since Turkey’s unlawful 1974 invasion split the island.
The comments came in an interview with the Cyprus News Agency in New York ahead of his meeting with UN chief Antonio Guterres.
In the CNA interview, Eide also warned that a potential showdown over natural gas drilling could be more dramatic than in 2014, when the talks were suspended after President Nicos Anastasiades walked out in protest over Turkey carrying out surveys inside the island’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ)
“If there is a direct showdown over drilling, my worry is that it can be potentially more dramatic than in 2014; because the general mood in the neighborhood is more dramatic. The EU – Turkey relationship has become more complicated, also the Turkey – Greece relationship and the internal developments have become more complicated,” Eide said.
“At the same time, the prospect over a shared gas future for everybody on the island and also with the neighbors is also a positive prospect,” he said, going both ways as he often does.
“Right now, the plan we have is to do our utmost to help the leaders to get to a deal in the near future,” he said. “But if that fails, maybe other options have to come on the table.”
The UN diplomat said that they “have to be prepared for a negative outcome if it simply doesn’t work; and what the UN does then,” adding that there is also bigger discussion going on now about the future of peacekeeping missions in general.
The Sunday Mail said in April that one option would be for the UN to yank its peacekeeping force, a move that could leave Cyprus vulnerable to another attack from Turkey, which said it will keep an army on the island “forever,” along with the right to militarily intervene when it wants.