Former UN Cyprus Envoy Sees Hope for Island Unity Yet

FILE - A man walks by the U.N buffer zone, is seen an abandoned building in the background, as on the wall reads "Federal Solution" in the divided capital Nicosia, Cyprus (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)

A former United Nations envoy for Cyprus, now Director-General of its Geneva office, said there is a “good foundation” to resume collapsed unity talks on the divided island even though there’s been nothing but nearly-unmitigated failure since Turkey unlawfully invaded in 1974 and seized the northern third it still occupies.

In an interview with the Athens-Macedonian News Agency, Moller, who was also a special UN mediator for Cyprus from 2006-08, becoming another in a long line of diplomats who’s failed to find an answer, he insisted there could be one yet but didn’t offer any.

Talks collapsed at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana in July, 2017 when Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades refused to accept demands from Turkish-Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to let them keep an army in the occupied territory and the right to militarily intervene – invade – again when they wanted.

Moller didn’t say why he was optimistic with those conditions still on the table, with Erdogan saying a Turkish army will be on Cyprus “forever,” a deal breaker and obstacle to making any agreement.

“The last set of negotiations went further and brought the two sides much closer together than they had done in the past. So there is quite a good foundation on which to move forward again,” Moller said.

“I think there was a missed opportunity again. The two sides have to build on that. It would be good to take a step back and look at where we are in the world today.”

He said opportunities had been missed, parroting UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who broked the failed Swiss talks and then issued a report blaming nobody for anything other than to say a big chance was missed.

“There are some lessons to be learned from that. Particularly on an island that, by all measurements, is at peace. But also look at some of the studies that have been done in the past, which show very clearly that the economic benefits of reunification are huge, for the island and for the region,” said Moller.

He added, “Particularly on an island that is well-educated, has extraordinarily well developed infrastructure, and has a geographical important position where it can act as a kind of service centre for the lower Mediterranean. There are so many advantages for Cyprus, that it is still a mystery why this is still a problem that has not been solved.”