Anastasiades, Akinci at UN Odds Over Dead Cyprus Unity Talks

Nicos Anastasiades. Photo: TNH/Kosta Bej (FILE).

NEW YORK – While Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades is reportedly ready to tell United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres he’s ready to resume collapsed unity talks, his rival Turkish-Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci isn’t.

More than two years of often hopeful negotiations between the Cypriot leaders over hopes to reunify the island split by an unlawful 1974 Turkish invasion which saw the northern third seized and occupied fell apart during meetings in July at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana over Ankara’s demand to keep its army there and the right to militarily intervene when it wanted.

The bitter end also caused a schism between Anastasiades and Akinci who at one point had been pictured going out for a public walk and sharing drinks and happy talk about prospects for reunification.

Guterres was in Switzerland and tried to broker a deal got got nowhere as Anastasiades said the UN chief had been led astray by overly-optimistic estimations by then-UN Special Envoy Espen Barth Eide a deal was at hand.

Anastasiades also accused Eide of favoring Turkey, as did Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias and the Norwegian diplomat quit the effort, joining a long line of failed envoys and politicians, including from the United States, who couldn’t bring a resolution to the 43-year-old dilemma.

Anastasiades was due to meet Guterres on Sept. 21 as the UN has its annual General Assembly opening that brings heads of state to New York, and the Cyprus Mail said he was ready to discuss resumption of talks although Akinci said he sees no chance for at least five months, with Cypriot elections coming.

Anastasiades has already met with China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov as well as Kotzias. Greece, along with Turkey and the United Kingdom, the former Colonial ruler which still has a military base on the island, are guarantors of security.

Lavrov, government sources told the newspaper,  extended an invitation to Anastasiades to visit Moscow in the last 10 days of October, which the President accepted.

Anastasiades was said to be ready to discuss with Guterres talk over yet another initiative which wasn’t detailed, but not until after the Feb. 2018 elections in which the Cypriot President is seeking another term in office.

Akinci was less optimistic. “Ultimately there is no great expectation from contacts in New York, as it is a meeting where the situation will be assessed,” Akinci said. No joint meeting of leaders with the Guterres was planned, he said,  as he will keep his distance.