American diplomat Jane Holl Lute, the envoy to Cyprus for United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, has decided to stay longer to keep negotiating with the leaders of both sides of the divided island to see if negotiations for reunification can resume.
She’s the latest in a long line of officials over the decades who had the same hope only to see it repeatedly dashed and with the last round of talks collapsing in July, 2017 at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana when Turkish-Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan saying they would never remove a 35,000-strong army on the northern third occupied since a 1974 invasion and demanding the right to militarily intervene again when they wanted.
That was too much for Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades, who walked away but who has said he’s willing to try again even as Turkey has drillships unlawfully in the island’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ,) looking for energy near where the legitimate government has licensed Lute was planning to leave Sept. 2 after meeting twice with Anastasiades and Akinci but after that she said she’s decided to stay on for a time with Cypriot government spokesman Prodromos Prodromou indicating the two sides are ready to start talking again, reported the Chinese news agency Xinhua.
“There seems to be good reason to hope that there are grounds for us to agree on the terms of reference for continuing peace negotiations,” Prodromou told reporters, similar to wording that’s been heard for decades without any real progress being made.
Prodromou said it was unlikely the terms of reference, if agreed, would be announced by either side who want to keep the details secret from Cypriots and Turkish-Cypriots whose lives would be bound by whatever decision is made without their consent unless there’s a referendum.
“It is Mrs. Lute who is conducting the whole process on behalf of the United Nations and we should wait for the next steps. Mrs. Lute will have consultations with the UN secretary-general and we will see,” he added.
Turkey is already defying soft sanctions from the European Union in continuing to have ships drill and has also ignored demands by the United States to stop, along with Greece, which – with Turkey and the former Colonial ruler the United Kingdom are guarantors of security there.
Anastasiades and Akinci said they also hoped to talk on the sidelines of the UN’s annual General Assembly opening in New York later in September although the body has ignored repeated entreaties from Cyprus to intervene and help.