Wanted: retired elder statesman to take on Cyprus mediation

THE Cyprus question, often thought tedious enough to wilt a pylon, is suddenly enlivened this spring by speculation as to which elder statesman will be asked to grapple with the problem in the new post of United Nations envoy on Cypriot affairs. A former minister is being sought with both the stature to impress, and the patience to mediate between, Athens, Ankara, the Greek Cypriots and Rauf Denktash.

The idea springs from a set of new proposals on Cyprus known as the 'Ghali ideas'. Since Boutros Boutros-Ghali, the UN Secretary-General, often complains of being overloaded, a stand-in has been suggested. Two names are being floated privately: Hans-Dietrich Genscher, who resigned last April after 18 years as German foreign minister; and Lord Howe, Britain's former foreign secretary.

Lord Howe would probably be a popular choice with most of the parties. The newly elected Cypriot government of Glafcos Clerides has quietly expressed itself flattered at the thought of a British grandee; the Turks, recalling the warm relationship between President Turgut Ozal and Margaret Thatcher, would be delighted to see one of her former ministers in the job.

At 62, Lord Howe is probably something of a wasted talent with time on his hands (his most important international commitment appears to be membership of an advisory body to the President of Ukraine). Described as 'a sheep in sheep's clothing who can have sharp teeth when he needs them', he would have the degree of patience required to shuttle between the parties without raising unnecessary hackles.

The problem is that Britain may already have had its share of international appointments for retired foreign secretaries and the like, most recently in Lord Carrington and Lord Owen. Germany, on the other hand, has practically none, apart from the Nato Secretary-General, Manfred Worner.

As Germany seeks to raise its internationalist profile, this will clearly not do. Every now and then Klaus Kinkel, Mr Genscher's successor, reiterates that Germany will seek a permanent seat on the UN Security Council when the time comes to change its composition. Mr Genscher, who has a heart problem, is a favourite to be Germany's next president, but has said he does not want to run for the job. Yet he was the world's longest-serving foreign minister, and is now by far Germany's leading candidate to assume any troubleshooting mission and thus set the scene for a more daring German diplomacy in future.

The problem here is that Mr Genscher would be anything but acceptable to one of the parties involved: the Turks. They accuse him of poisoning the EC against their membership application, and of blocking German military aid after Turkish raids into Iraq against PKK Kurdish guerrillas. They accuse Germany of being the main base for PKK attacks 'against Turkish territorial integrity'. A year ago this week, Mr Genscher cancelled a trip to Turkey. The head of the Istanbul Chamber of Commerce threatened to turn in his BMW to the German consulate. Mr Ozal said: 'What Genscher did is just for internal politics . . . Germany has changed a lot after reunification. They are trying to interfere eveywhere, to show themselves as a great force. Europe probably knows about this. In times past, Hitler's Germany also did this, of course by other means. Modern Germany is not trying to use these means but by misusing economic means.'

It is well known that Chancellor Helmut Kohl, far from harbouring expansionist aims, has based his entire foreign policy on building a Europe that will bind and constrain his country. He is said to favour not a German but an EC seat on the Security Council. But his Foreign Minister, of a younger generation, has said this would be unrealistic, and declared a few weeks ago: 'The United States says Germany should be on the Security Council, but there are still two countries that are opposed - Britain and France.'

Mr Kinkel is clearly planning for the future here. Every year the German Foreign Ministry sends about 80 trainees on an intensive language-training retreat in the southern Rhone valley, near Montelimar. One of the setpieces of the course is instruction in how to set out a diplomatic brief in French. In their latest test, the students were required to argue the German case for permanent membership of the Security Council.

Life and Style
A teenager boy wakes up.
Life and Style
It is believed that historically rising rates of alcohol consumption have contributed to the increase
food + drink
The erotic novel Fifty Shades of Grey has already been blamed for a rise in the number of callouts to the fire brigade for people trapped in handcuffs
voicesJustine Elyot: Since Fifty Shades there's no need to be secretive about it — everyone's at it
Arts and Entertainment
Critics say Kipling showed loathing for India's primitive villagers in The Jungle Book
filmChristopher Walken, Bill Murray, Scarlett Johanssen Idris Elba, Andy Serkis, Benedict Cumberbatch, Cate Blanchett and Christian Bale
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
Playing to win: for Tanith Carey, pictured with Lily, right, and Clio, even simple games had to have an educational purpose
lifeTanith Carey explains what made her take her foot off the gas
Arts and Entertainment
The White Sails Hospital and Spa is to be built in the new Tunisia Economic City.
architectureRussian billionaire designs boat-shaped hospital for new Dubai-style Tunisia Economic City
Arts and Entertainment
You could be in the Glastonbury crowd next summer if you follow our tips for bagging tickets this week
Husain Abdullah returns an interception off Tom Brady for a touchdown
nflLeague has rules against 'sliding to ground on knees'
Life and Style
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Java Developer - web services, XML and API

£330 - £350 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Lond...

Maths Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Reading: Maths Teacher required to teach Furthe...

Primary teachers required for schools in Norwich

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Primary teachers requ...

Trainee Helpdesk Analyst / 1st Line Application Support Analyst

£18000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

Day In a Page

Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?
Royal Ballet star dubbed 'Charlize Theron in pointe shoes' takes on Manon

Homegrown ballerina is on the rise

Royal Ballet star Melissa Hamilton is about to tackle the role of Manon
Education, eduction, education? Our growing fascination with what really goes on in school

Education, education, education

TV documentaries filmed in classrooms are now a genre in their own right
It’s reasonable to negotiate with the likes of Isis, so why don’t we do it and save lives?

It’s perfectly reasonable to negotiate with villains like Isis

So why don’t we do it and save some lives?
This man just ran a marathon in under 2 hours 3 minutes. Is a 2-hour race in sight?

Is a sub-2-hour race now within sight?

Dennis Kimetto breaks marathon record
We shall not be moved, say Stratford's single parents fighting eviction

Inside the E15 'occupation'

We shall not be moved, say Stratford single parents
Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Talks between all touched by the crisis in Syria and Iraq can achieve as much as the Tornadoes, says Patrick Cockburn
Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

The Tory MP speaks for the first time about the devastating effect of his father's bankruptcy
Witches: A history of misogyny

Witches: A history of misogyny

The sexist abuse that haunts modern life is nothing new: women have been 'trolled' in art for 500 years
Shona Rhimes interview: Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Writer and producer of shows like Grey's Anatomy, Shonda Rhimes now has her own evening of primetime TV – but she’s taking it in her stride
'Before They Pass Away': Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Jimmy Nelson travelled the world to photograph 35 threatened tribes in an unashamedly glamorous style