UN Envoys Will Double-Team Cyprus Unity Talks Restart Hopes

FILE - From left to right, UN Secretary-General's Special Adviser on Cyprus, Espen Barth Eide, Jonathan Allen, Director of the British National Security at the Foreign Office, Turkish Foreign Minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, Greek Cypriot leader, Nicos Anastasiades, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, Turkish Cypriot leader, Mustafa Akinci, Greek Foreign Minister, Nikos Kotzias, Frans Timmermans, First Vice-President of European Commission, and Elizabeth Spehar, UN Secretary-General's Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus, pose for a group picture during a new round of the conference on Cyprus under the auspices of the United Nations, in Crans-Montana, Switzerland, Friday, June 30, 2017. (Jean-Christophe Bott/Keystone via AP)

NICOSIA – Two United Nations diplomats are going to meet with the leaders on both sides of divided Cyprus in yet another attempt to try to kick start reunification talks that have failed for decades and collapsed again last year at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana.

The UN Secretary General’s Special Representative in Cyprus Elizabeth Spehar was to meet with Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish-Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci, while American envoy Jane Hall Lute will also consult and try to find common ground.

The negotiations fell apart when Akinci and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said they would never remove an army from the northern third that’s been occupied since an unlawful 1974 invasion and which only Turkey recognizes.

Speaking to reporters after meeting with Anastasiades, Spehar said they spoke about the upcoming Security Council session and also about the upcoming consultations by Lute, the Cyprus Mail said. “We will be preparing for some quite important weeks ahead,” she added.

Lute has been designated by Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who tried to broker the talks in Switzerland, to see if there’s some way around Turkey’s refusal to even consider restarting unless its military demands are accepted.

Spehar said Lute will first come to the island and speak with the two leaders and then with the other parties and that it would then be up to Guterres to decide what to do although the Cyprus problem has been a graveyard for diplomats who’ve come and gone and made essentially no progress in getting either side to budge.

Turkey also refuses to recognize Cyprus, a member of the European Union that Erdogan wants his country to join, and he also bars its ships and planes and has sent warships off the coast to try to prevent foreign energy companies for drilling for oil and gas.