Head of Cyprus peace force changes

Head of Cyprus peace force changes

Head of Cyprus peace force changes Elizabeth Spehar will replace Lisa Buttenheim as the special representative and head of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) to conduct the ongoing peace talks between the two communities of the split island. 

Buttenheim has completed her term, which she was appointed to in 2010 by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-mon, and Spehar will resume duty in mid-March, state-run Anadolu Agency reported on Feb. 17. 

Spehar, the director of the Policy and Mediation Division at the U.N. headquarters, served in the Europe Department at the U.N. Secretariat from 2009-2015. 

It was also announced that Buttenheim was appointed as deputy head of the Department of Field Support at the Department of Peacekeeping Operations.

The Turkish and Greek Cypriot communities re-launched peace talks in May 2015 after Turkish President Mustafa Akıncı was elected one month before. 

Since then, Akıncı and Greek Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades have been holding talks under the guidance of U.N. Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Cyprus Espen Barth Eide and Buttenheim. 

The island’s Greek and Turkish communities have lived estranged since 1974, when a Greek-inspired coup was followed by a Turkish operation, though the seeds of partition were sown soon after independence from Britain in 1960. 

The frozen conflict has been a permanent fixture on U.N. Security Council agendas for at least half a century, and Cyprus hosts one of the world’s oldest peacekeeping forces, monitoring a 180-kilometer ceasefire line that slices through the eastern Mediterranean island.