Despite decades of failure by a long line of diplomats, United Nations Special Representative and Head of Mission Elizabeth Spehar said Cyprus could still be reunited but hoping against hope isn’t the answer.
Addressing the 14th Economist conference, Spehar said the aftermath of talks that collapsed in July, 2017 at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana when the Turkish side insisted on keeping an army in the northern third that’s been occupied since an unlawful 1974 invasion has been marked by growing mistrust and finger-pointing without explaining why she had optimism now.
She cited a report by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who failed to broker the deal in Switzerland, that said the dead talks are alive. When the negotiations fell apart he issued a previous report blaming nobody for anything.
Spehar noted that Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish-Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci met again even though it wasn’t a formal talk about the problem that has evaded solution for 44 years.
“That offers some hope. It shows the willingness of the two leaders to meet and discuss for the good of their communities and demonstrate their ability to take decisive steps to improve the lives of Cypriots on both sides of the divide through concrete measures,” Spehar said, using the UN’s carefully coded diplomatic language aimed at not offending either side.
“It’s my hope that the leaders can build on the momentum gained by the opening of the crossing points to push forward other long awaited and beneficial confidence building measures in the coming period,” she added.
Spehar noted contacts of another UN Special envo y, American diplomat Jane Holl Lute “were fruitful,” language typically used when nothing has really happened.