NICOSIA – Although he is the latest in a long line of United Nations leaders to fail to help Cyprus reunification, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres got the support of the Security Council for trying.
Guterres, Portugal’s Prime Minister from 1995-2002, presided over negotiations with Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish-Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci that fell apart in July, 2017 at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana.
He later issued a report blaming nobody for anything and despite pleas from Anastasiades, has refused to get involved with Turkey unlawfully drilling for oil and gas in Cypriot sovereign waters and has been unable to get the talks going again.
The 15-member Security Council, which is charged with overseeing international security and peace efforts said Anastasiades and Akinci should use a meeting in Berlin with Guterres to try to find an agreement, which has eluded diplomats for decades.
Speaking after a UN Security Council briefing in New York on the Secretary-General`s Good Offices report on Cyprus, Jonathan Allen, the United Kingdom Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN, said members gave Guterres their support, the Cyprus Mail reported.
Anastasiades, Akinci and Guterres could sit down again on Nov. 25 to try yet again to get past stumbling blocks that have prevented new talks, with Anastasiades said unless Turkey removes a 35,000-strong standing army on the occupied northern third he won’t talk.
The Crans-Montana talks collapsed when Akinci and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said they wouldn’t remove their army and wanted the right to militarily intervene – invade – again when they wanted.
Allen said that “the fact that the two leaders will be getting together with the Secretary-General in the same room for the first time over two years, is a positive development and I really hope that they can build on that conversation to agree the way forward to resume negotiations and to be able to find ultimately a settlement.”
The UK, which still has military bases on the island, is a guarantor of security there along with Turkey and Greece and a UN peacekeeping force. Anastasiades wants an international police force instead but that was nixed by Turkey.
“If you are asking about detail questions of what would happen under new arrangements, well I think we’ll let those play around the negotiating table. And we are very clear about our role and the importance that we attached to that,” said Allen in diplomatic language designed to say nothing.
Guterres had already sent American diplomat Jane Holl Lute to Cyprus to meet separately with the two leaders but she, like the others, got nowhere.