Cyprus peace talks resume in Switzerland under auspices of UN, guarantor countries

ANADOLU AGENCY
CRANS-MONTANA, Switzerland
Published 28.06.2017 15:02
Updated 28.06.2017 17:14
The Turkish Cypriot delegation with Turkish Cypriot leader, Mustafa Akinci, center, is pictured at the beginning of a new round of the conference on Cyprus under the auspices of the United Nations, in Crans-Montana, Switzerland. AP Photo
The Turkish Cypriot delegation with Turkish Cypriot leader, Mustafa Akinci, center, is pictured at the beginning of a new round of the conference on Cyprus under the auspices of the United Nations, in Crans-Montana, Switzerland. AP Photo

Turkish Cyprus, Greek Cyprus and representatives from guarantor countries started negotiations Wednesday to solve the long-standing dispute on the divided island.

The conference, held by the U.N., began at Le Regent Congress Center in Crans-Montana, Switzerland.

Turkish Cypriot President Mustafa Akıncı and Greek Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades met during the conference, joined by U.N. envoy Espen Barth Eide, Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu and Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias.

Eide is expected to hold a press conference at 2:30 p.m. local time at Le Regent Congress Center.

According to Eide, the U.N. chief's special adviser on Cyprus, the upcoming Cyprus peace talks in Switzerland are the "best, but not the last chance" to solve the long-standing dispute on the divided Mediterranean island.

"It is a unique opportunity because after all of these decades of division it is possible to solve, and I really hope that this is the spirit by which everybody goes into this meeting," Eide told a news conference in Geneva ahead of Wednesday's talks.

Eide said that the U.N. would not submit a "common document" to guide the discussions on security and guarantees as it was announced earlier in June.

In a statement released by the Turkish Foreign Ministry said that political will is needed to conclude the talks with a fair and permanent solution.

The statement also said that all the topics are simultaneously discussed between the sides. It highlighted Çavuşoğlu's comment: "We came here for a solution. The 50-year-old problem should be solved."

Just before beginning of the meeting, Kotzias turned to Çavuşoğlu and said: "Mevlüt, tomorrow it will be 43 degrees Celsius in Greece."

Çavuşoğlu responded by reminding Kotzias of the cool weather in Switzerland, and said: "Nikos, it is better for you to stay here and not leave the table."

Çavuşoğlu was likely referring to the occasion during the previous Geneva meeting. In the meeting, Çavuşoğlu offered officials from all sides to immediately start looking to solve technical issues.

That proposal was accepted by the British and Turkish Cypriot side. However, the Greek minister refused the offer, saying that their staff is not ready to start such negotiations, and left the room. Later, the Greek Cypriot side claimed that they got up from the table to go for a smoke.

In a statement on Tuesday, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said: "The opportunity for the reunification of Cyprus is now finally before us."

"I call on all concerned players to seize this opportunity, for Cyprus first and foremost, but also for the wider eastern Mediterranean region," he said.

Guterres urged all participants in the talks to "demonstrate the will and leadership required to conclude a comprehensive settlement."

On Monday, Akıncı described the talks as a "decision conference" for the future of Cyprus.

"I will set out on this journey with this positive thought in mind and a cautious optimism."

The restart of the Cyprus conference on June 28 was announced earlier this month after Guterres met with the Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot presidents in New York.

The Eastern Mediterranean island has been divided since 1974, when a Greek Cypriot coup was followed by violence against the island's Turks, and Ankara's subsequent intervention as a guarantor power.

Akıncı and Anastasiades have been involved in reunification talks to form a federal state since May 2015.

The pair met several times in Geneva and Mont-Pelerin last year, but their last meeting in February was fraught with controversy over a Greek Cypriot decision to introduce a commemoration of the 1950 Enosis referendum.

Both sides had agreed on most of the issues in the reunification deal, but the sticking points, including a security and guarantee system, remain unresolved.

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