UN envoy says reunification deal within reach in Cyprus

United Nations envoy on Cyprus signals that comprehensive settlement for divided island between Turkish and Greek Cypriot leaders could be ‘more than possible’

Photo by: UN
Photo by: UN

UN delegation aiding Espen Barth Eide, the UN Secretary-General's Special Adviser on Cyprus, holds a meeting with Turkish and Greek Cypriot leaders in the UN buffer zone near Nicosia, Cyprus on Jan. 14, 2016

A reunification deal in Cyprus is "more than possible" though some complex matters still need to be addressed, the UN envoy on Cyprus Espen Barth Eide said on Friday.

"This is possible. It's more than possible. We see we come towards a possible settlement ... But the last part is always the most difficult part. You may have achieved 90 percent, but the 10 percent that is remaining are not the easy ones, it's the difficult ones," Eide told reporters in New York.

"It's important for all of us to recognise that the weeks and months ahead will be about dealing with some of these essential, core questions that remain unresolved," he disclosed.

Eide informed that some of these issues include territorial readjustments, security and guarantees, underlining that they are difficult because "the starting positions of both communities are quite different on these questions."

He praised the approach and leadership of Turkish Cypriot President Mustafa Akinci and the Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades saying that "if these two leaders cannot reunify Cyprus, I don't know who can."

"The solution has to be credible, implementable, practicable and sustainable," Eide added emphasising that the credibility of a lasting deal would essentially alleviate mutual concerns about security issues.

Hopes have grown for a peace deal since leftist moderate leader Mustafa Akinci and his Greek counterpart Nicos Anastasiades resumed UN-brokered negotiations last May, with the meetings “happening with increasing frequency" in recent months.

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 tothe EU in 2004 initiated by then Secretary General Kofi Annan. While the Turkish Cypriots approved the plan, the Greek Cypriots rejected it overwhelmingly and entered the EU alone.

The island became independent in 1960 as the Republic of Cyprus and three countries, Turkey, Greece, and Britain, were made its guarantor states, according to the Zurich and London Agreements.

Having a diverse population of both Greeks and Turks, following the establishment of the Republic many disagreements emerged between the ethnic groups on the island which failed to resolve their differences.

In July 1974, the Turkish government militarily intervened into the northern part of the island with the intention of protecting the Turkish population after a short-lived Greek-orchestrated coup on the island aimed at union with Greece (a concept known in Greek as Enosis).

Since 1974, the island has been divided into two spheres of government, the south being governed by the Greek Cypriot government and the north being governed by the Turkish Cypriots.

TRTWorld, AA