Cypriot Government Steps Up Criticism of UN Envoy Eide

FILE - Inside the U.N buffer zone in the divided capital Nicosia, Monday, May 1, 2017. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)

NICOSIA – Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades, who already said United Nations Special Envoy Espen Barth Eide is favoring Turkey in talks to reunify the island, said he’s “distraught,” over what he called a slant in the diplomat’s stance.

He said Eide should grasp that “statements or threats” will produce results contrary to the goal of reunifying Cyprus as a federation.

“The less is said, especially on his (Eide’s) part, the better,” Anastasiades told reporters, adding that the U.N. envoy is too much “in a hurry,” the Cyprus Mail said.

Anastasiades criticized Eide for ignoring the “real threat” of Turkey’s attempts to dispute Cyprus’ right to explore its waters for oil and gas by sending its own ship to conduct seismic surveys off the island.

The Cypriot President said did not want to pick a fight but “but I’ve repeatedly brought to his attention that he should be careful with whichever statements are made because they create distrust.”

Anastasiades is preparing a letter for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to address Turkish threats over drilling rights but also to report what the Greek Cypriot side has deemed “unhelpful” statements by Eide.

Eide came under attack for being in a hurry, for taking one side’s positions at the expense of the other, and for not treating Turkish threats to Cyprus’ energy plans seriously but instead using them as a stick to pressure the Greek Cypriot side.

Anastasiades, when asked about Eide said, “The less said about the UN special envoy the better,” and expressed regret Eide appeared to be adopting positions from Turkey and added that Cyprus wouldn’t be blackmailed

Eide agreed with the position of Turkish-Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci that the UN could submit bridging proposals but it must be requested by both sides, the Turkish Cypriot leader clarified.

But Anastasiades responded: “We have said repeatedly that these talks are Cypriot owned. We do not want arbitration… this was an agreement… we do not want timetables and we constantly hear about the risks that may arise if the talks are prolonged”.

Asked if all of these issues would be included in the letter he planned to send to Guterres, Anastasiades said: “I have no intention of getting into a personal dispute with the special adviser but I will draw attention to any statements made that cause mistrust or give the impression of adopting the positions of one side at the expense of the other.”

U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said May 6 that after speaking with Eide, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged Cypriot leaders to do their utmost for a peace deal “given the risk that the process is running out of time.”

The island’s ethnic division came in 1974 when Turkey invaded in response to a coup by supporters of union with Greece. Turkey doesn’t recognize Cyprus as a state and only recognizes a Turkish Cypriot declaration of independence while keeping more than 35,000 troops in the breakaway north.

Anastasiades and Akinci have made much headway in two years of complex negotiations. But the process lost much of its steam over the last three months with both sides accusing each other of backsliding.