NICOSIA – The United Nations envoy to Cyprus said people on the island divided when Turkey unlawfully invaded in 1974 and seized the northern third think it may never be brought back together again with new tensions arising over Turkish drilling for energy in Cypriot sovereign waters.
Speaking with reporters at UN headquarters, Elizabeth Spehar, the Special Representative and head of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) said both sides have to do more to reach to each other after 45 years of failed diplomatic efforts.
“According to recent polls in Cyprus, there remains a strong desire for a comprehensive settlement in both communities. But at the same time, there’s growing skepticism as to whether it’s still possible,” said Spehar, the Turkish Anadolu Agency reported.
Spehar spoke after briefing the 15-nation UN Security Council behind closed doors about the latest developments in Cyprus with the last round of negotiations having collapsed in July, 2017 at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana when Turkey said it would never remove a 35,000-strong army on the occupied side and wanted the right of further military intervention.
Spehar praised what she said was progress made during a meeting between UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, Turkish-Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci and Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades although none was made.
“The leaders’ role remains critical, and the role of the guarantor countries is of course also key to arriving at a solution,” said Spehar, referring to Turkey, Greece and the United Kingdom, which still has military bases on the island where it had established a colony before independence came.
While leaders on both sides have agreed to the principle of re-unifying Cyprus, there are different interpretations of how power would be shared between the two communities and how the property rights of displaced Cypriots would be managed, the news agency said in its report.