No one’s been able to do it for four decades by US diplomat Jane Holl Lute, sent to Cyprus as the United Nation’s latest envoy to what is called “the graveyard of diplomats” met with President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish-Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci in a bid to restart unity talks.
The last round fell apart in July, 2017 at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana when Akinci and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said they would never remove an army from the northern third occupied since an unlawful 1974 invasion and wanted the right to militarilily intervene again when they wanted.
That was too much even for Anastasiades, who had offered for every other term to let a Turkish-Cypriot be President of the whole island – the legitimate government is a member of the European Union that Turkey wants to join.
The Swiss talks fell apart despite the efforts of the last envoy, Norwegian diplomat Espen Barth Eide and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who became the latest in a long line of negotiators fail to broker a solution.
It was the fourth trip to Cyprus by Lute since the Swiss debacle. She met with Anastasiades for more than two hours, the Chinese news agency Xinhua said, before crossing the Green Line dividing the capital of Nicosia that is patrolled by a UN peacekeeping force.
Chief Cypriot negotiator Andreas Mavroyiannis, who attended the meeting with Anastasiades, along with Foreign Minister Nicos Christodoulides, said that during a “very good and creative” talk, Anastasiades reiterated his determination to work for a solution as soon as possible, diplomatic language which usually means nothing new happened.
“He told Lute that he was ready to develop the new ideas he has come up with within the Guterres framework,” Mavroyiannis said without explaining why new ideas weren’t proposed before or why there’s been virtually no attempt to reconnect for 21 months.
The so-called Guterres framework was a draft outline agreement of six points for a possible Cyprus solution submitted before the collapse of the negotiations in 2017 but that failed and he later put out a report blaming nobody for anything and now wants to resurrect the talks although Akinci warned the island may be headed for permanent partition.
Mavroyiannis said Anastasiades told Lute that “he accepts political equality as requested by the United Nations and as recorded in the Secretary-General’s report,” considered by Turkish-Cypriots as meaning they want a stake in any decisions affecting all executive, judicial and legislative organs of a future federal state although they make up only 20 percent of the population of the island.
That’s been an obstacle in the talks along with Turkey’s refusal to give up his position, along with Greece and the United Kingdom, the former Colonial ruler which still has a military base there, as guarantors of security.
Mavroyiannis said Anastasiades repeated to Lute his invitation for a joint meeting with Akinci in her presence.