The president of Cyprus on Sunday criticized a UN envoy for perceived bias and undue haste amid troubled talks aimed at reunifying the ethnically divided Mediterranean island. President Nicos Anastasiades, a Greek Cypriot, said that he’s “distraught” that U.N. envoy Espen Barth Eide appears to be adopting the positions of the breakaway Turkish Cypriots. He said Eide should grasp that “statements or threats” will produce results contrary to the goal of reunifying Cyprus as a federation.
“The less is said, especially on his (Eide’s) part, the better,” Anastasiades told reporters, adding that the UN envoy is too much “in a hurry. The Cypriot president said did not want to pick a fight but “but I’ve repeatedly brought to his attention that he should be careful with whichever statements are made because they create distrust.”
UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Saturday that after speaking with Eide, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged Cypriot leaders to do their utmost for a peace deal “given the risk that the process is running out of time.”
The island’s ethnic division came in 1974 when Turkey invaded in response to a coup by supporters of union with Greece. Turkey doesn’t recognize Cyprus as a state and only recognizes a Turkish Cypriot declaration of independence while keeping more than 35,000 troops in the breakaway north. Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci have made much headway in two years of complex negotiations. But the process lost much of its steam over the last three months with both sides accusing each other of backsliding.
Anastasiades also criticized Eide for ignoring the “real threat” of Turkey’s attempts to dispute Cyprus’ right to explore its waters for oil and gas by sending its own ship to conduct seismic surveys off the island.