NICOSIA — The United Nations has asked American diplomat to consult all sides on Cyprus in yet another bid to try to bring unity to the island divided since Turkey occupied the northern third in an unlawful 1974 invasion.
Jane Holl Lute, a former US Deputy Secretary for Homeland Security, was designated as the UN’s temporary envoy earlier in a bid to resurrect talks that have failed for decades but the Turkish side was balking.
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.
Turkey, along with Greece and the United Kingdom, the former Colonial ruler which still has a military base on the island, are guarantors of security. But Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Turkish-Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci have refused to accept a new UN broker to replace Norway’s Espen Barth Eide, who quit last year when negotiations fell apart at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana when Turkey said it wouldn’t remove an army in the occupied territory and wanted the right to militarily intervene when it wanted.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was there but couldn’t bring a deal and as Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades said he couldn’t accept the Turkish demands, dashing once-promising hopes an agreement could be brought.
UN Deputy Spokesman Farhan Haq said Guterres wants Lute to carry out the consultations. It’s unclear when exactly the contacts will begin.
Lute is being asked to determine whether a year-long period of “reflection” on the failed talks indicates the ground is again ready for a return to the negotiating table although Erdogan, who has just won re-election in snap polls he called that also gave him near-dictatorial powers, said he’s not interested.
The UN is reaching out at the same time Cyprus protested to the body over Turkish planes and warships continuing to violate the country’s airspace and waters and keeping foreign energy companies out of areas where they are licensed to drill for oil and gas.
Cyprus’ Permanent Representative to the UN, Ambassador Kornelios Korneliou made the protest in a letter to Guterres, who has paid no attention to the complaints.
Korneliou transmitted two documents the government said showed violations of airspace and the unlawful use of closed ports by Turkish warships, the Cyprus Mail reported.
He also reportedly told Guterres that the Turkish side unlawfully issued three notices to airmen relating to exercises conducted by the Turkish Air Force in March.