Following a nearly two-month hiatus, U.N.-led Cyprus reunification talks that restarted on April 11 between Turkish-Cypriot leader Mustafa Akıncı and Greek-Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades continued late Thursday. Commenting on the talks following the meeting, Akıncı said the Greek-Cypriot leader did not create a positive atmosphere and further indicated that a "solution cannot be reached in the talks if the Greek side maintain ill-intentions."
The talks were initially suspended in February following a decision by the Greek- Cypriot administration around "enosis," shorthand for the unification of the island with Greece. The Turkish-Cypriot side perceived this as a deviation from the stated goal of reunifying the island as a federation, something that Greek-Cypriots strongly denied. However, with the Greek-Cypriot parliament voting 30-20 to shelve yearly public school commemorations of a 1950 referendum on Enosis, the talks restarted. Speaking after the second face-to-face meeting with Anastasiades, Turkish-Cypriot leader Akıncı said his Greek-Cypriot counterpart brought up the matter of Turkey issuing Navtex earlier this week in response to the Greek side's natural gas research in the international waters, with Akıncı noting that bringing up such matters does not represent good will. "I do not want to instill pessimism but it is evident to all that this matter [of reunification] will be much more difficult if delayed after July," Akıncı added.
Underlining that one of the critical matters to refrain from in the midst of negotiations is the natural gas issue, Akıncı told members of the media that he and Anastasiades had agreed to either establish a committee or delay the matter in efforts to give the negotiations a chance: "I thought we had an agreement on that note but, unfortunately, it no longer seems that way. At the beginning of July, Turkish Cypriots and Turkey will take the necessary actions to protect [Turkish-Cypriot] rights against the [Greek Cypriots'] natural gas research," Akıncı added. Emphasizing that the remaining three meetings in the future are highly critical, the Turkish-Cypriot leader added, "We did not assign an arbitrator position to the U.N. It is best for the U.N. to provide both sides with advice on the four main topics in a framework of diplomacy."
The reunification talks - brokered by U.N. Special Cyprus Envoy Espen Barth Eide - were launched in May 2015 to discuss a permanent settlement for the divided Mediterranean island. Cyprus was divided into a Turkish-Cypriot state in the north and a Greek-Cypriot administration in the south after an Enosis-inspired 1974 military coup was followed by violence against the island's Turkish people, resulting in Turkey's intervention as a guarantor power. The status of the island remains unresolved in spite of a series of discussions that resumed in May 2015.