UN Special Envoy Espen Barth Eide who met with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Friday to brief him on the Cyprus negotiations, said that said they had a “thorough, strategic discussion” on the “way ahead”.
Although the Greek Cypriot side is adamant that it does not want mediation by the UN, President Mustafa Akinci has said that there needs to be some kind of input by the organisation. Akinci warned of the increasing tension that the South’s drilling operations offshore the island in July, will create.
UNSG Guterres has put forward a series of suggestions which Eide will present to the two Cypriot community leaders when he returns to Cyprus on Monday.
Since the negotiations resumed two years ago, the UN has stressed that it wants the talks to be Cypriot led. However, that Guterres is putting in ideas on how to keep the talks afloat, is an indication of how seriously the international community takes the prospect of the negotiations collapsing.
Additionally, the UN could withdraw all or most of its 800 military personnel if there is no resolution of the Cyprus problem.
A report in the ‘Sunday Mail’ last week suggested that there is a “good chance” the Good Offices Cyprus mission may be closed down, barring a breakthrough in the talks by July, while UNFICYP is included in a wider debate on the operation of UN peace missions across the world.
The Cyprus mission, UN sources suggested, falls under the criteria set in deciding the future of UN presence around the world, implying that, if the ongoing talks were to fail, not only UN efforts to facilitate a solution, but UNFICYP, too, might soon cease to exist, or, at least, be reduced to insignificance.
An anonymous source said that: “You know, closing down the mission would be as simple as not appointing a new special adviser, and the decision is solely up to the secretary-general.”
Although hardliners in the South are saying that these reports are regarded as an effort to force the South into agreeing to an unworkable solution, it seems the pressure is mainly coming from the Trump administration which is cutting US funding to the UN.