It’s been called a graveyard for diplomats and now American Jane Holl Lute, a former US Deputy Secretary for Homeland Security, has been sent to Cyprus as a United Nations temporary envoy to try to restart unity talks that have failed for decades.
Lute, 62, was the United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for Peacebuilding Support, formerly also Assistant Secretary-General for Mission Support in the Department of Peacekeeping Operations.
She’ll take on the task of trying to get Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish-Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci back to the table after talks collapsed in July, 2017 at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana when Turkey said an army on the northern third of the island occupied since an unlawful 1974 invasion would never be removed and that it wanted the right to invade again.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was a broker there but couldn’t get the two sides together and later issued a report issuing no blame to anybody for anything and now has sent Lute to take a shot at it after the former envoy, Norway’s Espen Barth Eide, gave up.
According to the Cyprus News Agency, which cited sources within the UN, the appointment was forwarded to officials in Cyprus and on the Turkish-Cypriot side, along with Greece, Turkey and the United Kingdom, who are guarantors of security on the island.
Guterres is reportedly pondering whether to launch the fact-finding mission right away, or wait until after the elections in Turkey on June 24, the paper said. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who won’t recognize Cyprus and bars its ships and planes, is ramping up populist rhetoric for his campaign.
Cyprus is a member of the European Union that Turkey wants to join but as Erdogan has sent warships to block foreign energy vessels from reaching waters where they are licensed to drill for oil and gas as he had demanded a share of any potentially lucrative revenues and for Turkish-Cypriots to take part in the process.
Lute’s appointment came after Akinci said he was ready to accept a framework Guterres wants for the talks, details of which haven’t been made clear as all sides are keeping the negotiations secret from Cypriots and Turkish-Cypriots.