The United Nations will use shuttle diplomacy to help the rival leaders of ethnically divided Cyprus to come up with ways of getting back to the negotiating table after reunification talks broke down last week, a UN envoy said Monday. Envoy Espen Barth Eide, the UN secretary-general’s special adviser on Cyprus, said after speaking with Greek Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and breakaway Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci that resuming negotiations won’t be easy. But both leaders are willing to get things moving again, Eide said.
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“The last mile is always the most difficult one in peace processes,” he said. “If there’s any consolation in that, I can say that in almost every success…peace talks are preceded by a crisis.”
A 1974 coup aimed at uniting Cyprus with Greece triggered a Turkish invasion that split the island into an internationally recognized, Greek Cypriot south and a breakaway, Turkish Cypriot north. Two days of intensive talks at the Swiss resort of Mont Pelerin ground to a halt a week ago after Anastasiades and Akinci clashed on how many people would be eligible to reclaim homes and property in zones each side will control in an envisioned federation.
Anastasiades sought as many as 90,000 Greek Cypriots getting back property in an augmented Greek Cypriot zone. Akinci offered a maximum 65,000. The two leaders blamed each other for the impasse that renewed doubts about whether 18 months of negotiations could resolve the intractable dispute. Even with the UN serving as mediator, it ultimately is up to them to figure out how to move forward, Eide said.
“We can never want it more than they,” he said. “They have to make up their mind at the end.”