Despite repeated efforts on part of the UN – with the new Secretary-General Antonio Gutteres taking personally the lead – and increased pressure of (among others) the US so that negotiations keep going, the latest round of efforts to bring about a solution to the (decades-long) Cyprus issue came to a dead-end.
To be true, the negotiations of Greek-and-Turkish Cypriots were largely superseded by the tensions between Greece and Turkey. The latest round was brought to collapse by Ankara’s insistance that 30-35.000 Turkish troops on Cyprus would have to remain – with a withdrawal program but with no “sunset clause” (i.e. final date of departure), while Turkish Foreign Minister Cavusoglou clearly stated that such troops would remain as part of Turkey’s guarantorship “to be used if needed”; still, Athens was the first to claim an end to the three-State guarantee system in Cyprus (Greece – Turkey – U.K.) as a precondition for any Cyprus solution.
Now what? It would seem that no further UN–sponsored and –run round of negotiations over Cyprus would be forth-coming. The very status of UNFICYP peace-keeping at the island (repeatedly derided as “beach-keeping”) may come under jeopardy: the Green Line separating the two communities is de facto extinct. The melancholy wish of Gutteres to both communities, South and North of the island, “Good luck!” does not bide well for the future. Ominously, Turkish President mentioned “a Plan B, or even a Plan C”, causing disarray rather than relief….
… At the same time, the drillship “West Capella”, due to start searching for hydrocarbons (mainly natural gas) on Cyprus EEZ on behalf of French oil major TOTAL, is nearing Cyprus shores. Ankara has been making unpleasant noises, while Cyprus and Turkey have been issuing conflating NAVTEX warnings for the same sea-regions. “The multibillion-dollar natural gas boom that was expected to re-unify Cyprus may now cause breakage in the region”, was the dictum of an experienced diplomat.