No Surprise: Cyprus Unity Talks Restart Hopes Dim

UN envoy Jane Holl Lute, right, talks with chief negotiator for Greek Cypriots Andreas Mavroyiannis as the leave the presidential palace after a meeting with Cyprus' president Nikos Anastasiades in the divided capital of Nicosia, Cyprus, Sunday, April 7, 2019. Lute is in Cyprus to hold a fresh round of consultations with everyone involved in stalled efforts to reunify ethnically split Cyprus in order to prepare the groundwork for a hoped-for resumption of negotiations. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)

NICOSIA – American diplomat Jane Holl Lute, the latest United Nations envoy sent to Cyprus to try to get the squabbling Cypriot and Turkish sides to sit down and talk about reunification, almost 45 years after an unlawful invasion, is getting nowhere either.

Cypriot government officials said there are “very serious difficulties” in rekindling formal talks to reunify the ethnically-split island nation.

But they insisted there will be no easing up in UN-assisted efforts to get Greek-Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots back to the negotiating table after the last round of talks collapsed in July, 2017 at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana when Turkey insisted on keeping an army on the occupied northern third and wanted the right to militarily intervene again

Andreas Mavroyiannis, the chief negotiator for the majority Greek-Cypriots – whose government is in the Eurpean Union that Turkey wants to join at the same it won’t recognize Cyprus and bars its ships and planes – said there’s no other option but to resume talks, although expectations for an immediate restart are low.

He didn’t explain how that would happen as neither side is really talking about talking again and Lute’s shuttles between Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish-Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci have proved fruitless.

Akinci again accused Greek-Cypriots of wavering on giving Turkish-Cypriots a say in all decision-making in an envisioned federation even though they comprise only about 20 percent of the population.

Anastasiades replied that Akinci’s demands aim to put Cyprus under Turkey’s “complete control,” indicating that it’s unlikely the two would sit down again, five years after they started talking amid much international fanfare a breakthrough was likely, which didn’t happen.

(Material from the Associated Press was used in this report)