U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Thursday stated that there is "no common ground yet" to resume formal negotiations on the settlement of the Cyprus problem.
Diplomats had been trying to make headway to end a decades-old conflict between rival Greek and Turkish Cypriots that destabilizes the Eastern Mediterranean and is a key source of tension between NATO allies Greece and Turkey.
"The truth is that at the end of our efforts, we have not yet found enough common ground to allow for the resumption of formal negotiations," Guterres told a news conference in Geneva.
On the last day of the talks that started Tuesday, Guterres stated that he will convene another round of U.N. 5+1 talks to move the Cyprus process forward. He added that there was an understanding that probably two to three months is the kind of time frame that should be used for the next meeting.
“We are determined to do everything we can to make this dialogue move on,” he pointed out.
The U.N. chief further reiterated that the position expressed by Turkish Cypriots is a solution based on two states.
Guterres held successive meetings during the second of a three-day informal gathering he is hosting in Geneva with Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar and Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades, but no breakthrough appeared to emerge.
The gathering is also being attended by the foreign ministers of Cyprus’ three "guarantors" – Greece, Turkey and Britain. It’s the latest attempt by the U.N. to revitalize the peace process since another round of negotiations collapsed in 2017.
Five decades of Cyprus talks have led nowhere. The conflict has fueled tensions between NATO allies Greece and Turkey, impeded Ankara’s bid to join the European Union and triggered friction in the Eastern Mediterranean over potential undersea hydrocarbon reserves.
The focal point of Wednesday’s talks was Tatar’s submission to Guterres of a two-page document outlining the Turkish Cypriot vision for a peace accord based on a two-state model rather than a federation.
Tatar's document, released to media, called on the U.N. Security Council (UNSC) to pass a resolution recognizing Cyprus’ Turkish Cypriot north as a sovereign state, equal in status to the internationally recognized government in the Greek Cypriot south.
The document said a peace deal would then be worked out between “two independent states” under U.N. auspices.
However, Greek Cypriots reject a two-state deal because it would legitimize the island’s permanent partition.
Cyprus has been mired in a decadeslong struggle between the Greek and Turkish Cypriots, despite a series of diplomatic efforts by the U.N. to achieve a comprehensive settlement.
The island has been divided since 1964 when ethnic attacks forced Turkish Cypriots to withdraw into enclaves for their safety. In 1974, a Greek Cypriot coup aiming at Greece's annexation led to Turkey's military intervention as a guarantor power. The TRNC was founded in 1983.
The Greek Cypriot administration, backed by Greece, became a member of the EU in 2004, although most Greek Cypriots rejected a U.N. settlement plan in a referendum that year that had envisaged a reunited Cyprus joining the EU.
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