US Diplomat Takes Another Shot at Cyprus Unity Talks

FILE - UN envoy Jane Holl Lute leaves the presidential palace after a meeting with Cyprus' president Nikos Anastasiades in the divided capital of Nicosia, Cyprus, Sunday, April 7, 2019. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)

NICOSIA – With talks aimed at reunifying Cyprus 45 years after a Turkish invasion dead in the water – and Turkey ramping up tension by sending energy drill ships into the island’s sovereign waters – the United Nations Secretary General’s Special Envoy Jane Holl Lute is due to meet with the leaders of both sides to see if there’s any avenue to get them going again.

In the wake of Turkey’s defense minister warning his country could invade again at any time, the American diplomat has the tough task of getting Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish-Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci to find common ground.

It won’t be easy as Anastasiades walked away when the last round of negotiations 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 a 35,000-strong standing army on the occupied land and wanted the right to militarily intervene again when they wanted.

Turkey is already defying on Monday will meet again in Nicosia with Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci within efforts to reach agreement on the terms of reference paving the way towards the resumption of Cyprus reunification talks.

Anastasiades’ meeting with Lute will take place at the Presidential Palace at 1100 local time (0800GMT). Anastasiades also met on Sunday morning with Lute who arrived in Cyprus on Saturday.

The UNSG’s special envoy had a meeting on Sunday afternoon with Akinci, after which the latter’s spokesperson Barış Burcu said that the two will meet again on Monday, after midday, at Lute’s request.

After President Anastasiades’ Sunday talks with Lute, Government Spokesman Prodromos Prodromou said that it was a productive meeting which focused on the UN envoy’s mandate to formulate the terms of reference for the resumption of the negotiations.

Prodromou also said that Anastasiades “outlined his positions and his positive approach on the resumption of the negotiations” and also raised the matter of Turkey’s illegal actions within Cyprus’ EEZ and territorial waters, according to CNA.

The President also raised the serious issue of illegal interventions and announcements regarding the fenced–off part of the Turkish-held city of Famagusta.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974 after Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. Repeated rounds of UN-led peace talks have so far failed to yield results. The latest round of negotiations, in July 2017 at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana, ended inconclusively.