Cyprus security roadmap to 'help bolster' peace drive

Greek and Turkish Cypriot leaders on Sunday traded blame over a deadlock in Cyprus reunification talks as they arrived at the United Nations for talks with Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, right, leads Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades, center left, and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci, center right, into a conference room at the United Nations headquarters Sunday, June 4, 2017.

The leaders of the Greek and Turkish Cypriot community leaders agreed to resume negotiations at a meeting in Geneva later this month after their talks were stalled over the terms of the meeting, the United Nations announced on Monday.

Guterres invited Greek Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci to a working dinner at United Nations headquarters to try and break an impasse.

The tiny island of around 1.1 million people was split along ethnic lines in 1974 when Turkey invaded in the wake of a coup by supporters of union with Greece.

Akinci told reporters that "the reason why we are here is the impasse created by one side's insistence on putting forward pre-conditions".

But the two sides remain at odds on a number of key issues, with security at the top of the list.

The UN are looking for a way to create a common security vision for Cyprus for the 21st century, not so much building on the 1960 realities, but more relying on the 2017 realities, which provides a change for those who need change, but also continuity for those who need some kind of continuity, UNSG's Special Adviser on Cyprus Espen Barth Eide told a press briefing last night.

While the island joined the European Union in 2004, only the internationally recognized Greek-speaking south enjoys full membership benefits.

Greek and Turkish Cypriot leaders agreed Sunday to return to the negotiating table later this month in a new bid to clinch a historic deal on reunifying the island.

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The Geneva summit has to be held in June because the Cyprus government is expected to go ahead with offshore exploratory gas drilling by French energy company Total starting in mid-July.

The secretary general said he and the two leaders "agreed that all issues will be negotiated interdependently and that nothing is agreed until everything is agreed", in accordance with the principles the two sides established in February 2014.

"After a long, and intense, and open, and honest discussion over four hours, the outcome was that the two leaders are committed to ask the Secretary-General to reconvene the Conference on Cyprus in Geneva", he noted.

"These are issues which President Anastasiades raised persistently", a Greek Cypriot diplomatic source said after the dinner, pointing to the need for a well-prepared Geneva Conference.

  • Leroy Wright