Cyprus reunification talks end without agreement

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said there was still a wide gap between all the parties involved on a number of issues and called for fresh initiatives to address the ethnic division of the island.

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

The UN-backed talks that began in the Swiss Alpine resort of Crans-Montana on June 28 had been billed as the best chance to end the island's 40-year division.

Talks aimed at ending the four-decade ethnic division of Cyprus have closed without reaching an agreement, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said on Friday after a stormy final session of talks that ran into the early hours.

"I'm very sorry to tell you that despite the very strong commitment and engagement of all the delegations and different parties ... the conference on Cyprus was closed without an agreement being reached," he told a news conference.

Guterres had flown in on Thursday to press Greek and Turkish Cypriots to seal a deal reuniting their east Mediterranean island, and US Vice President Mike Pence phoned to urge them to "seize this historic opportunity."

TRT World's Christine Pirovolakis has been at the talks in Crans-Montana.

Diplomatic efforts to reunite Cyprus have failed since the island was riven in a 1974 Turkish army intervention triggered by a coup by Greek Cypriots seeking union with Greece.

But the week of talks, held in a Swiss alpine resort, ground to a halt as the two sides failed to overcome final obstacles. Guterres finally called a halt at 2 am after an intense session, a source close to the negotiations said.

"Unfortunately ... an agreement was not possible, and the conference was closed without the possibility to bring a solution to this dramatic and long-lasting problem," Guterres said.

"That doesn't mean that other initiatives cannot be developed in order to address the Cyprus problem," he added.

He declined to elaborate on what exactly had caused the talks to collapse, but said there was still a wide gap between the two delegations on a number of questions.

Without a fallback option, it was unclear what, if any, peace process could continue. Reunification attempts have always been under the umbrella of the United Nations, which has one of its longest-serving peacekeeping forces on the island.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, who with his Greek counterpart Nikos Kotzias had been attending the peace talks for a week, spoke of different options.

"This outcome shows the impossibility of reaching a settlement within the parameters of the Good Offices Mission," Cavusoglu wrote on his twitter feed, using a term referring to the UN.

"No use in insisting on them."

Greek Cypriots, due to launch gas drilling off the island in coming weeks that Turkey opposes, said this was "not the end of the road."

"Tonight's development is in no way positive, but it is not the end of the road either," Nicos Christodoulides, spokesman for the Greek Cypriot administration, said.

TRT World's Ertan Karpazli said that the status quo on the island is likely to remain in place until the Greek Cypriots hold elections in 2018, after which a new solution plan may be presented depending on the outcome of polls. 

TRTWorld and agencies