The United Nations Secretary General’s special envoy to Cyprus Espen Barth Eide said on Friday conveyed the Security Council’s support for Cypriot leaders over the ongoing peace talks which targeted to settle a permanent resolution for the conflict on the long-divided island.
Eide said he informed the UN Security Council last week about the restarted peace talks by both Turkish and Greek Cypriot leaders respectively Mustafa Akinci and Nicos Anastasiadis last month.
After he met with Akinci in Nicosia on Friday, Eide stated that the Council member states had given “unique” and “positive” support to the peace talks which were suspended by the Greek side in 2013.
When he was elected in April, Akinci pledged that he would resume peace talks with his counterpart Anastasiadis in order to reunify the island.
Turkish and the EU leaders have recently urged the parties on the island to accelerate the peace talks since the issue stands as one of the most important obstacles before Turkey’s EU integration and Ankara’s undulant relations with Athens.
The EU Commission President Jean Claude Juncker and Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan respectively visited the island this month and stressed the necessity of an emergent resolution to the long-standing problem.
Some countries in the EU, most notably Greek Cypriots and France, have blocked Turkey’s negotiation chapters due to the Cyprus problem and 1915 Armenian events, which are not considered as part of the conditionality criterias.
Turkey has long been waiting on the doorstep of the EU to become a full member, but the pre-accession talks only opened on Sept. 5, 2005.
Ankara must fulfil political (Copenhagen) and economic (Maastricht) criterias which are the only measures for a country to become a member in the EU.
The Commission president drew attention to the importance of a peace settlement over the island, saying that a fair resolution would affect positively the entire EU as well as Turkey.
"If this [a solution] happens and I’m praying that this will happen….this will not only be good news for Cyprus, this will be a good news for entire European Union," Juncker said during the press conference with the Cypriot leaders in Nicosia.
The eastern Mediterranean island has been divided between the Greek Cypriots in the south and the Turkish Cypriots in the north since 1974, when Turkey sent its troops to the island in the aftermath of a Greek-backed coup that attempted to unite the island with Greece.
The Turkish Cypriots had declared its unilateral independence in 1983 under the name of the TRNC, but this move was only recognised officially by Ankara while Libya de facto recognised the country.
The UN-brokered peace initiative in 2004, dubbed the “Annan Plan” proposed under the auspices of former secretary general Kofi Annan who almost brought about the reunification of the island.
But, the Greek Cypriots opposed the plan with only 24 percent supporting reunification in the referendum, whereas the Turkish Cypriots supported the proposal plan with 65 percent.
Soon after the refusal of the Annan Plan, the Greek Cypriots became a full member of the EU during the “big bang” enlargement in May 2004.
The peace talks were suspended last October, after the Greek Cypriots cancelled their participation after a row with Turkey over offshore hydrocarbon exploration.
The Greek side discovered gas offshore in late 2011, but Turkey disputed its rights to the area and dispatched an exploration vessel to carry out seismic research in the Greek Cypriot-claimed waters at the end of the last year.