UN Envoy Steps Into The Cyprus Breach

The UN's new envoy wants Cyprus and Turkey to ratchet down the tension over oil and gas rights exploration off the island.

The new United Nations envoy wants a ratcheting down of tension after Cyprus suspended unity talks because Turkey wants to hunt for oil and gas in waters where Cyprus has licensed companies to drill.

Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades, irked at Ankara’s actions, broke off the talks he not long ago said would be fruitful and as the UN and US both said they expected a breakthrough this time after decades of failed negotiations since Turkey unlawfully invaded in 1974.

“I think it’s very important now that everybody acts responsibly and avoid further escalation and that we as soon as possible create an understanding that the oil and gas resources, as President Anastasiades has repeatedly stated, is for all Cypriots,” Espen Barth Eide was quoted by Cyprus Mail as telling reporters after meeting with the President.

“It is a serious issue that we also see in all parts of the world when you have maritime disputes… oil and gas can be either a blessing or a curse. If it is well managed it will be a source of wealth for all Cypriots; if it becomes a source of tension it will be a problem for everyone and then it will be more of a curse than a solution,” Eide said, according to the report.

On Oct. 7, Cyprus pulled out of the latest round of UN-buffered peace talks in protest at apparent attempts by Turkey to encroach on Cyprus’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) by conducting seismic research off the island’s southern coast,, where Cyprus has given drilling licenses.

Cyprus called on the international community to condemn what it called Ankara’s “provocative behavior,” that led to the suspension of talks.

Anastasiades made the decision after gaining the endorsement of Cypriot political party leaders, according to government spokesman Nicos Christodoulides, who said Turkey’s behavior had left Nicosia with “no other choice.”

The spokesman called on “all other countries, and especially our European Union partners, as well as permanent members of the [UN] Security Council to react to Turkey’s action.”