UN Peacekeeping Official Will Visit Still-Torn Cyprus, New Talks Urged

FILE - An aircraft takes off from Larnaca airport past the control tower, Saturday, Oct. 7, 2017, at the southern coastal city of Larnaca, Cyprus. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)

With reunification talks in limbo after falling apart last year, United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Bintou Keita, will visit Cyprus for three days beginning May 9 to review the mission aimed at keeping calm between Cypriots and Turkish-Cypriots on other sides of the island.

She will also meet United Nations officials as well as stakeholders on both sides of the island, representatives of the diplomatic community and civil society, the Cyprus Mail said.
That came as Farhan Haq, the spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, the last chief of the world body unable to broker a deal on Cyprus, urged both sides to return to the negotiating table.

Talks between Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish-Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci collapsed in July, 2017 at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana when Turkey insisted on keeping an army in the occupied territory and wanted the right to militarily intervene.

Hag said the UN wouldn’t pay any heed to charges flying back and forth between the parties after Guterres last year issued a report blaming nobody for anything other than to say an historic opportunity was missed although the talks are secret and no details allowed.

“We’re not going to respond to all of the rhetoric from different officials, but what we have made clear is the need for the parties to come back to the table, and we’re trying to see what can be done to bring them back,” Haq said.

Guterres said he wants American diplomat Jane Holl Lute to take a stab at getting the talks kick started again although the island has been a graveyard for envoys who’ve come and gone and made essentially no progress for decades.

She would be on a temporary assignment as Guterres’ office said there hasn’t been any decision on a permanent envoy to replace Norway’s Espen Barth Eide, who gave up last year, joining a long line of failed diplomats on Cyprus.