Despite a collapse last year of talks to reunify Cyprus, British Prime Minister Theresa May – whose country was a Colonial ruler and still keeps a military base there – said she’s confident a solution will be found.
Writing to some British Members of Parliament on June 12, the letter – whose contents were only now being released – May said that the United Kingdom, one of the guarantors of security on the island along with Greece, and Turkey, which has occupied the northern third since an unlawful 1974 invasion, still believes a just and lasting settlement is within reach, the Cyprus Mail said.
May told one MP that she appreciated “your kind words about the government’s support for a settlement,” noting that “last summer in Crans- Montana, the two Cypriot leaders and three guarantor powers, supported by the UN secretary-general, came closer than ever before to reaching a settlement.”
That was in reference to Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades, Turkish-Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci and United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and his then Cyprus Special Envoy, Norway’s Espen Barth Eide, meeting at a Swiss resort.
“All sides demonstrated remarkable courage and commitment and all parties engaged with serious intent to reach a deal. I share both your disappointment that it was not possible to reach agreement and your assessment that the talks made important progress,” May’s letter said.
That optimism was undercut by what turned into a debacle when Anastasiades walked away after Akinci and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said they would never remove an occupying army and wanted the right to militarily intervene when they wanted.
May said, “We recognize it will not be straightforward: all sides will need to build trust as they seek to restart talks, and an agreement will require flexibility and willingness to compromise from all sides,” none of which has been shown since the talks fell apart.
May said when she met Anastasiades in April they discussed the steps he might take in pursuit of an agreement but wouldn’t reveal them.
“While it is ultimately for the Cypriot communities to decide the next steps, we remain ready to support progress towards a settlement in any way we can,” May said without offering any ideas what that would be, continuing the general platitudes that diplomats, foreign leaders and the international community have used in discussing the Cyprus issue in vague terms.