Following July’s meeting with the two Cypriot leaders, sources say special UN envoy Jane Holl Lute appeared unconvinced regarding the basis for further peace talks and that a meeting in New York could be in the works to clarify once and for all.
According to Kathimerini Cyprus correspondent Apostoli Zoupaniotis in New York, sources point to a likely chance of a trilateral meeting between UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and the two Cypriot leaders, citing also the need for shuttle diplomacy to clarify the positions of the two sides.
Guterres appears more likely to seek a meeting in late September to get the two men’s commitment to a new round of negotiations. The same sources also point to shuttle diplomacy as key in clearing up answers that the two leaders gave to Lute last month.
Americans put the squeeze on the process
These latest developments appear to fall within a wider context, according to Kathimerini, citing a bigger say by Washington. The US, as the biggest financial sponsor in the UN, sought various concessions on peace keeping missions around the world including Cyprus.
During her brief visit in Nicosia, Lute met with President Nicos Anastasiades, the Greek Cypriot leader in the south, and then crossed the buffer zone and met with Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci in the north.
The American proposal did not go through but observers said if little progress is made on peace talks, the US could more easily get the attention of its peers next time around
Lute, who did not make any statements following her meetings, flew back to New York during a UNSC vote on renewing the UNFICYP mandate, with the peacekeeping mission in Cyprus extended through 31 January 2019.
During earlier consultations, sources said the US proposed adding specific references to the draft to reflect timing benchmarks for an exit strategy tied to the political process.
The American proposal did not go through but observers said if little progress is made on peace talks, the US could more easily get the attention of its peers next time around.
The UNFICYP mandate also urged the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot leadership to seize the opportunity presented by Lute’s appointment to conduct in‑depth talks on the way forward.
The UN envoy then visited Ankara where she met with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.
“We shared our vision on the settlement of the Cyprus issue with Ms. Lute,” Cavusoglu wrote on Twitter after their meeting.
Athens, London, and Brussels were also on Lute’s schedule for meetings before the UN can have the big picture on the fate of the Cyprus talks.
Observers also point out that Cyprus talks could be influenced by recent fallout between Ankara and Washington, especially if there is an escalation between the two countries.
New push for Confidence Building Measures
Elizabeth Spehar, Guterres’ Deputy Special Adviser, is also said to be behind a new initiative to push for Confidence Building Measures (CBM), which was mentioned in the UNFICYP mandate and a report on them is expected in January.
According to Kathimerini, this marks the end of the “reflection period” where the two leaders and all parties involved in the Cyprus issue were asked to take stock and reflect on the way forward.