United Nations under secretary-general for political affairs Jeffrey Feltman will pay an official visit to Cyprus from May 4 to 6, the Nicosia mission announced yesterday.
“During his familiarisation trip, he is scheduled to meet with the two leaders during separate meetings on May 5,” the UNFICYP announcement said.
“He will also hold a series of other meetings while on the island, including with the Greek Cypriot negotiator and the Turkish Cypriot negotiator,” it added.
Reports from New York had said that the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s was sending the American diplomat to Cyprus to speed up the process of reaching a comprehensive solution.
The move was also interpreted as a sign of Ban’s interest in finding a solution to the 40-year-old Cyprus issue sooner rather than later.
Stalled UN-brokered Cyprus peace talks resumed on February 11 after President Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu reached agreement on a joint communiqué highlighting key principles of a federated Cyprus.
But the process has been far from smooth-going and after Australian diplomat Alexander Downer left his position as UN special envoy for Cyprus in March, rumours from New York had Feltman replacing him.
Downer stepped down to take the post of Australian high commissioner to London and Lisa Buttenheim – the UN Secretary General’s resident representative in Cyprus – has been the acting envoy ever since. The low-profile American diplomat is expected to officially take up the challenging post.
The thorny issue is the Turkish side’s insistence on recognition of the breakaway regime in the occupied north, in contradiction to high-level agreements and UN resolutions providing for a federal, bi-communal, bi-zonal state.
Nonetheless, the two appointed negotiators on the talks are set to enter the phase of substantive negotiations on Tuesday.
The Greek Cypriot side’s Andreas Mavroyiannis and his Turkish Cypriot counterpart Kudret Ozersay yesterday returned home from South Africa where they spent five days getting acquainted with methodologies for resolving incompatibilities.
The ‘educational’ trip was funded by the UN Development Programme and also taking part in the trip was US ambassador in Nicosia John Koenig.