Greek Foreign Minister Blames British, UN Envoy Over Failed Cyprus Unity

FILE - A tourist from U.S visits a blocked road with barrels and barbed wires between the Greek and the Turkish Cypriots controlled areas by the U.N buffer zone in divided capital Nicosia, Cyprus, Tuesday, July 4, 2017. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)

NEW YORK – As rival leaders on Cyprus are due to meet separately with United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres about the country’s dashed hopes for unity, Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias said negotiations were scuttled by the British and the former UN Special Envoy Espen Barth Eide of Norway.

Greece, along with Turkey and the United Kingdom, is a guarantor of security on the island that’s been divided since an unlawful 1974 invasion by Turkey, which occupies the northern third of the island in a self-declared Republic no other country recognizes.

Talks between Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish-Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana in July, after soaring optimism, suddenly crashed when Turkey refused to remove an army posted there and said it wanted the right to militarily intervene when it wanted.

Kotzias said Greece is willing to rejoin negotiations but only under guidelines from the UN although even Guterres’ intervention in Switzerland couldn’t save the talks. Eide quit to return to Norway to run for office, joining a long line of diplomats failing to bring the two sides together.

Speaking after meeting Guterres Sept. 18 at UN Headquarters in New York just before the annual General Assembly began, Kotzias said it is necessary to maintain “the only document of the UN submitted during the negotiations on the last evening, regarding the framework in which the decisions would be implemented, with which one could abolish the treaty of guarantees and intervention rights etc.” the newspaper Kathimerini said.

He added that the text, which was “unfortunately also sabotaged by the British in some way” is a “good foundation to continue our talks,” but gave no explanation for what he was talking about or how he felt the UK had undercut the negotiations.

He also said Kotzias favored the Turkish positions and said whoever is named to replace the Norwegian diplomat can’t be seen as being biased as media reports said he didn’t want the new envoy being visit the Turkish Embassy in Athens or the Greek one in Turkey as Eide did.

Akinci said he didn’t expect any movement to resurrect the dead talks as he headed for New York, the Cyprus Mail reported, even though he said he heard statements from the Cypriot side they are willing to come back to the bargaining table.

He said he expects an objective UN report on the record of the events that led to the deadlock, due by the end of the month and that he wants to talk with Guterres because he said the Cypriots were trying to distort what happened “and create impressions” in their favor.

“Ultimately there is no great expectation from contacts in New York, as it is a meeting where the situation will be assessed,” Akinci said, adding there would be no joint meeting including Anastasiades, which whom he had once been close before they fell out.