An informal meeting on Cyprus began in Geneva on Tuesday (April 27), with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres “realistic” about the chances of making progress, his Spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said.
“As we have repeatedly said, the purpose of the meeting will be to determine whether common ground exists for the parties to negotiate a lasting solution to the Cyprus issue within a foreseeable horizon” Dujarric told journalists at the UN Palais des Nations.
The development comes four years after the last round of talks collapsed. Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot leaders had met in the Alpine resort of Crans Montana to discuss the future of the divided Mediterranean island but talks stalled after a week of discussions on six main issues, including security and guarantees, new territorial boundaries, and power-sharing.
This time round, Guterres has travelled to Geneva to oversee the three days of talks in various formats.
Alessandra Vellucci, UN Information Service (UNIS) spokeswoman in Geneva, said that “the informal 5+1 Meeting on Cyprus in Geneva” had begun with a bilateral meeting between Guterres and Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar.
Tatar called his meeting with Guterres “productive,” and said his side conveyed its views on the dispute to the UN chief.
Those talks were followed by a meeting between Guterres and Nicos Anastasiades, President of the Republic of Cyprus and Leader of the Greek Cypriot Community.
“I am in Geneva with determination and political will, in order to create the necessary conditions for the resumption of substantive negotiations for the settlement of the Cyprus problem,” Anastasiades tweeted right after his arrival in the Swiss city.
Turkey has also been invited to the latest talks, along with Greece and Britain — the three guarantors of the island’s 1960 independence. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias, and UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab are leading the delegations of the guarantor countries.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey occupied the northern third. According to Greek Cypriot authorities, the conflict, know as the “graveyard of diplomats” has cost some 3,000 lives, left 1,400 people missing and displaced thousands from their homes.
Over 47 years of talks, the ultimate goal endorsed by the UN Security Council had been to reunify the breakaway Turkish Cypriot north and an internationally recognised Greek Cypriot south as a federation — two zones running their own affairs with a federal government overseeing the core elements of national governance such as foreign policy and defence.
Ankara and the government of the self-declared Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, which is recognized only by Turkey, have called for a two-state solution to the conflict. Greece and the internationally recognized Republic of Cyprus, an EU member state, continue to back a one-state solution.
The United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus. (UNFICYP) was established in 1964. UNFICYP’s 800-plus troops and 60-plus police officers deal with hundreds of incidents each year, according to the force’s website.
The Turkish Cypriot delegation to U.N.-sponsored talks proposed a two-state solution for Cyprus on Wednesday (April 28) to end the conflict with Greek Cypriots, but it was swiftly rejected by the Greek Cypriot side. Anastasiades said that the proposal was a “great disappointment”.
With reporting by Cyprus Mail, AFP, AP, Reuters