NICOSIA – As has been done for decades routinely, a near-automatic extension of a United Nations peacekeeping force on Cyprus, where Turkey has occupied the northern third since an unlawful 1974 invasion, was recommended by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
Joining a long line of his predecessors who had failed to bring the two sides together, he failed to broker a reunification deal when the last round of talks collapsed in July, 2017 at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana.
Those fell apart when Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Turkish-Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci said a 35,000-strong army on the occupied side would never leave and as they demanded the right of further military intervention again when they wanted.
The extension of the peacekeeping force known as UNFICYP comes every six months and has been given unblinkingly for generations with signs the island may he headed for permanent partition with Turkey ratcheting up tensions by drilling for energy in Cypriot waters.
But Guterres, who after the Swiss debacle issued a report blaming nobody for anything, took another shot verbally at trying to get the quarreling sides to sit down again although Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades said he wouldn’t talk while the Turkish army is on the island.
Still, Guterres said that, “I again urge the leaders, the guarantor powers, and other interested parties to make productive use of the coming period,” while giving the usual praise to UNFICYP for its role on keeping Cypriots and Turkish-Cypriots from battling again.