NICOSIA – Bullheadedness on both sides of a divided Cyprus has put up obstacles to any hope of solving the dilemma of bringing it together or finding another solution, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said.
Guterres, who failed to broker a deal when talks collapsed in July, 2017 at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana, said any sense of finding a mutual agreement is fading, with Turkish-Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar instead demanding only recognition of the occupied northern third.
In an unofficial copy of his report on the UN’s peacekeeping force UNFICYP, he said that, “Sustainable peace in Cyprus can only rest on the basis of a solid reconciliation. As long as the two communities remain apart and rely on divisive narratives to formulate their understanding of the other, it will be extremely difficult to achieve such reconciliation,” reported The Cyprus Mail.
The Swiss debacle saw a collapse of negotiations after the Turkish and Turkish-Cypriot said a 35,000-strong standing army would never be removed and demanding the right of further military intervention.
Tatar, who took office in October, 2020, said he doesn’t even care about reunification and has taken the hard line of insisting that the UN and world accept a self-declared republic, recognized only by Turkey.
UN diplomatic sources not named said that his report stressed – as usual – that goodwill is the answer although it has failed for decades and so many envoys have given up that Cyprus has been called “the graveyard of diplomats.”
A surge in tough talk has worsened the problem with the island split in two by unlawful Turkish invasions in 1974 that seized the northern third, which remains under its control.
The hard-line rhetoric on both sides has led to increased rigidity while the prospects for a mutually-agreeable settlement continue to fade, the unofficial document said, according to the report.
Guterres urged again that “both sides to encourage more direct contacts and cooperation between the two communities and to provide concrete support to the initiatives as requested by the Security Council as evidence of their genuine commitment to a solution.”
It added: “There is no doubt that the island is facing a real crisis given the number of asylum seekers, refugees and irregular migrants compared to the size of the island’s population. However, the lack of access to asylum procedures in accordance with international law continues to exacerbate the problem and is of grave concern to the United Nations.”