UN Chief Will Name Personal Envoy for Cyprus Unity Talks Reboot

FILE - In this March 8, 2017 file photo, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres speaks during a press conference at the UN in Nairobi, Kenya. (AP Photo/Khalil Senosi, File)

NICOSIA – United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres, who failed to broker a Cyprus unity deal, will soon name yet another envoy to try to bring Cypriots and Turkish-Cypriots to a deal that has eluded a long line of diplomats for decades.

The spokesman of the UN mission in Cyprus, Aleem Sidique, said Guterres, who took part in the last round of talks that fell apart at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana in July, 2017 when the Turkish side insisted on keeping an army on the northern third it has occupied since an unlawful 1974 invasion and wanted the right to militarily intervene, said a senior official would be named, the Chinese news agency Xinhua reported.

“As the Secretary General has made clear in his last report, he intends to appoint a senior UN official in the coming weeks to conduct consultations with all the parties. For the UN that will be the next step,” Sidique said in replying to a question on the next steps on Cyprus by Guterres with the June 24 snap elections in Turkey seeing re-election of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

the secretary general following the completion of the electoral process in Turkey.

Guterres said in a report to the Security Council earlier this month that the parties must agree on a six-point framework he set out during the last meeting of the parties in Switzerland, as did Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades, but Turkey won’t give up its army and wants the right to militarily intervene again when it wants, which led the Cypriot leader to walk away.

Cypriot government spokesman Prodromos Prodromou said that now that the elections in Turkey are over “it is time to hear what Ankara has to say on the resumption of the Cyprus peace talks.”

The legitimate government on Cyprus – only Turkey recognizes its own self-declared Republic in the occupied area – said it was ready to resume talks but there’s no word from Erdogan or Turkish-Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci.

Turkey, which is a guarantor of security on the island along with Greece and the United Kingdom, the former Colonial ruler which still has a military base there, has to consent to whomever Guterres names but has shown no inclination nor interest.

“We would like to see if anything has changed in relation to public statements on the part of Turkey and whether negotiations can resume given the fact that Turkey expressed its intention to move away from the UN framework,” Prodromou said.

Foreign Minister Nicos Christodoulides earlier said that the government hoped that Turkey would give its consent for continuing negotiations after Erdogan was re-elected.

After the talks fell apart, Erdogan sent Turkish warships into waters off the island’s coast in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) claimed by the government and said he would block foreign energy companies from drilling in waters where they are licensed to look for oil and gas.

Turkey doesn’t recognize Cyprus, a member of the European Union that Erdogan wants his country to join, and bars its ships and planes with essentially no rebuke from the EU.

It’s not official but the UN Special Representative and head of the UNFICYP peacekeeping operation on Cyprus, Canadian diplomat Elizabeth Spehar has reportedly been talking with Cypriot and Turkish-Cypriot officials about rebooting collapsed unity talks.

There’s no official UN envoy to replace Norway’s Espen Barth Eide, who last year became the latest in a long line of diplomats to give up trying to find an agreement.

Cyprus would resume collapsed talks to unify the island but only on condition Turkey and Turkish-Cypriots accept United Nations guidelines, Humanitarian Affairs Commissioner Photis Photiou said earlier.

Speaking at a memorial at the church in Meneou for those who fell in 1974 and are still missing from Kontea, Photiou said the island cannot go on under today’s “unacceptable situation” of occupation, the Cyprus Mail reported.

He said he hoped “Turkey would cooperate to solve the humanitarian problem of the missing, taking on the huge responsibilities it has. Most families of the missing continue to have no news of their loved ones. “Time is now the biggest enemy for the missing,” he added.
“We are ready anytime to continue the negotiations where they left off last July,” Photiou continued.

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