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CYPRUS: Future of peace talks hangs in the balance says UN

12 December, 2018

Cypriots should properly engage with UN envoy Jane Holl Lute as the outcome of her contacts will be critical in determining the future of Cyprus talks, said UN head of mission Elizabeth Spehar.


Lute is due to arrive on Cyprus at the weekend to hold talks with President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci. It is the third time she will be coming to check the pulse of an ailing peace process.

"The UN believes that the solution to the Cyprus issue within a clear horizon remains possible,” said Spehar at a UN reception.

"while this time last year we were looking back to an eventful 2017, a crucial and historic year in Cyprus negotiations, in 2018 we are looking back on a rather different period, a year in which steps in the Cyprus peace process were few and far between."

Since the collapse of peace talks at the Cyprus Conference in Crans-Montana in July 2017, the Cypriot leaders have only met twice with road map for negotiations to resume.

Reluctant to get its fingers burnt again the UN has called on the sides to agree on terms of reference that would constitute the consensus starting point for new negotiations. Lute will be trying to get both leaders to agree on the way forward.

"The parties should engage with her in a creative and constructive manner, recognizing that the outcome will be critical in determining the future of the Cyprus negotiations," Spehar said.

"There is a growing recognition on the island that the process towards a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus issue is approaching a definitive juncture. While the talks have stalled for many months, the world has not stopped around us."

UN chief Antonio Guterres and the Security Council have repeatedly called for greater information-sharing and involvement of civil society actors, including women and youth, in the peace process.

"All Cypriots have a stake in the future of this island and greater engagement across all sectors of society can provide real impetus for the renewal of a successful process,” said Spehar.

Despite the current impasse, Spehar said there was no need to be fatalistic about the prospects of reunification.

"However, the uncertainty of the present should not be allowed to overshadow the prospects for a unified future. We should not lose hope, nor give in to fatalism.”

She expressed hope that Cypriots will use the year’s end to reflect on how they envisage the future of Cyprus as well as their own role in shaping it.