UN welcomes Turkish, Greek Cypriot leaders' meeting

DAILY SABAH WITH AA
ISTANBUL
Published 01.03.2019 00:13

The U.N. Security Council on Wednesday welcomed a meeting between the Turkish and Greek leaders of the divided island of Cyprus, praising progress made as well as the increased interaction between the two communities.

"The members of the Security Council urged the sides and all involved participants to renew their political will and commitment to a settlement under United Nations auspices," the Security Council said in a statement. "The Security Council reiterated their support for a Cypriot-led process and reaffirmed the primary role of the United Nations in assisting the parties to reach a settlement."

Turkish Cypriot President Mustafa Akıncı and Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades met Tuesday in the U.N. Green Zone with the participation of U.N. Cyprus Envoy Elizabeth Spehar, where they agreed on a number of issues to increase confidence, including the interoperability of cell phone networks and electrical grids, as well as clearing hazardous areas.

Akıncı said he exchanged views on the issue of extending the jurisdiction of founding states, in a possible solution to the Cyprus issue. He also mentioned that soldiers were working to clear nine minefields on both sides of the island, with the goal of making the island mine-free.

The U.N. has sought a peace deal to unite Cyprus under a federal umbrella that could also define the future of Europe's relations with Turkey, a key player in the issue. The Turkish side has always been a supportive actor in the U.N.-led negotiations to find a just and viable settlement to the Cyprus issue.

However, the peace talks on the ethnically divided island have yielded no results so far. Turkey has been blaming Greek Cypriot intransigence for the failure of the talks, with rejections of several agreements and proposals in 1986, 1992 and 2014. The latest initiative having taken place in Crans-Montana, Switzerland under the auspices of guarantor countries Turkey, Greece and the U.K., also collapsed in July 2017.

Speaking at a press conference, Akıncı stressed that he discussed with Anastasiades a number of ways to implement confidence-building measures already agreed upon, saying "the actual target is clearing the whole island of mines."

Last month, the U.N. Security Council called on Turkish and Greek Cypriot leaders to agree on terms for restarting negotiations aimed at resolving the tangled Cyprus issue and reunify the divided island "within a foreseeable horizon." The Security Council also called for the application and development of new confidence-building measures; including those seeking to enhance mobile phone and electricity connectivity across the Mediterranean island. In his latest report published on January, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also reiterated that he has confidence that "prospects remain alive for a comprehensive settlement within a foreseeable horizon."

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