UN Chief Backs Special Cyprus Envoy Accused of Bias

FILE - The United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, left, and Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim shake hands before a meeting in Istanbul, Friday, Feb. 10, 2017.( Mustafa Aktas/Prime Minister's Press Service, Pool Photo via AP)

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is standing behind his Special Envoy Espen Barth Eide, who Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades said was taking the side of Turkey in talks to reunify the island divided by an unlawful 1974 invasion.

Spokesman Stephane Dujarric conveyed that message after Anastasiades had said Eide was more accepting of Turkey’s position in the talks and had ignored Turkish plans to violate Cypriot sovereign waters in a search for energy.

“The role of any envoy mediating between two parties is a challenging one. Mr. Eide continues to do his job with the utmost confidence from the Secretary General,”, Dujarric said in the typical diplomatic language the UN uses to appease all sides without taking sides.

Earlier, Anastasiades said he was “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.”

Asked if the Guterres was concerned by the fact that Anastasiades’ criticism followed that of Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias, that Eide was aiding the Turkish side’s stance, Dujarric said: “I will leave the analysis to you and those following the issue longer than I have. What is clear in this process, we see comments criticising the work of the envoy from various parties – various sides. It comes with the work of being an envoy mediating,” the Cyprus Mail reported.

Anastasiades had said Eide “is not paying attention to the threats against the Republic of Cyprus and the climate of mistrust that is caused by the various Navtex [issued by Turkey], and the presence of Barbaros”, the Turkish research vessel sailing off Cyprus` coast.