AS EXPECTED the latest visit by the UN secretary-general’s envoy Jane Holl Lute did not amount to very much. Despite having two meetings with each leader on consecutive days nothing tangible appears to have been achieved, and she flew off to the guarantor powers reportedly for consultations about security and guarantees that in the last few years have become a fundamental aspect of the negotiations.
This was the fourth time Lute has visited the island since being asked by the UNSG Antonio Guterres last year to establish whether the two leaders had the political will to take part in a new peace process. It is taking her an awfully long time to find out whether the grounds exist for a new initiative. In fact, if her fruitless visits have shown one thing it is that there are no grounds, which is why she seems to have taken it upon herself to create them.
It is as if she is making work for herself, having transformed what was in effect a fact-finding mission into a mediation. During one of her previous visits it was reported that terms of reference had to be agreed before there was a new process, so she has devoted her time to unsuccessfully trying to make Anastasiades and Akinci to agree on them. She has become a facilitator/mediator conducting proximity talks with no end in sight.
Guterres appears to have set in motion a new procedure that is not going anywhere, with Lute said to be keeping the UN in the dark about what she is doing. The wily Anastasiades, who always wanted some kind of process that he could present as movement, has decided to help it along by demanding at his meeting with Lute that Akinci submitted his positions on the Guterres framework in writing, a demand he repeated in an interview shown on Antenna TV on Tuesday night.
Akinci, according to a report in Philelftheros, refused to do so because Anastasiades made no secret of his intentions. He said that based on the written positions of the Turkish Cypriot side – the Greek Cypriot side had submitted its positions in writing at Crans-Montana – a dialogue between the two sides could start. In other words, there could be a new bout of talks on the interpretation of the Guterres framework that is guaranteed to lead nowhere.
The matter is certain to come up at the Akinci-Anastasiades meeting that is scheduled for the second half of the month, but talks on the framework are certainly nothing more than filibustering. If Lute has not yet established that the political will for a settlement does not exist, she never will. She will keep coming to Cyprus under the illusion that the terms of reference will eventually be agreed.