Greek Cypriot leader to return to peace talks

Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades says he will return to peace talks with Turkish Cypriot counterpart Mustafa Akinci after receiving UN assurances following a diplomatic spat.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades adjusts his glasses during his news conference in Moscow February 26, 2015.

Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades has said he will return to peace talks with his Turkish Cypriot counterpart Mustafa Akinci after he previously called off a meeting that was scheduled to take place on Friday.

Anastasiades decided to cancel the peace talks after cutting short his visit to Turkey, where he was attending the first United Nations humanitarian summit. The cancellation was in protest against Akinci being treated like a head of state. 

The Greek Cypriot administration does not recognise Turkish Cypriot authority in the north of Cyprus, where the establishment of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) was announced in November 1983.

Although the two leaders frequently meet for negotiations in the UN-controlled buffer zone dividing the Eastern Mediterranean island, Anastasiades objected to Akinci attending a banquet for heads of state, which was hosted by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

It was later revealed that Akinci had been invited to the banquet on the request of the UN’s envoy to Cyprus, Espen Barth Eide, a move which was condemned by the Greek Cypriot administration.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan (R) shakes hands with Turkish Cypriot President Mustafa Akinci at Dolmabahce Palace during a dinner for participants of the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul, Turkey, May 23, 2016.

However, in a statement issued on Friday, Anastasiades announced that he is now prepared to return to talks after the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon clarified in a phone call the international body’s recognition of the Greek Cypriot administration as the legitimate authority of the island.

“I think that after the statement by the UN Secretary General, certain attempts that were made are now rectified and I want to hope that no similar phenomena will be repeated by anyone involved in the process,” Anastasiades told reporters in Nicosia.

A statement issued by the UN also reiterated that the UN’s policy on Cyprus “has not changed” while encouraging both Anastasiades and Akinci to “intensify their efforts towards reunifying Cyprus, in a climate of mutual respect, in order to bring an end to the unacceptable status quo.”

Greek Cypriot administration spokesman Nikos Christodoulides, meanwhile, said that no date has been set for the next meeting between Anastasiades and Akinci.

Cyprus has been divided since July 1974, following a coup by the Greek military junta in a bid to cede the island to Greece.

The coup prompted Turkey, a legal guarantor of peace on the island, to intervene. Over four decades on, negotiations have failed to end the dispute.

Talks to finally end the dispute resumed a little over 12 months ago, raising hopes of a possible peace deal by late 2016.

UN envoy Espen Barth Eide, in January, said a reunification deal in Cyprus is "more than possible" though some complex questions still need to be addressed.

However, any agreement must be approved by the two communities in separate referendums.

The last major effort to break the deadlock and settle the Cyprus dispute was the Annan Plan, the UN proposal for the federation and consequent accession of a united Cyprus to the EU in 2004, initiated by then-Secretary General Kofi Annan.

While the Turkish Cypriots approved the plan, the Greek Cypriots overwhelmingly rejected it.

Today, the Greek Cypriot south represents the whole island under the internationally recognised banner of the Republic of Cyprus.

The TRNC, on the other hand, remains unrecognised internationally except by Turkey and is subject to international isolation.


TRTWorld and agencies