Cyprus reunification talks stall over security question

Officials negotiating the Cyprus reunification deal are to reconvene in a few days to readdress how any agreement could be militarily secure, after UN-led talks ended without a breakthrough

António Guterres, centre, the UN secretary general with Mustafa Akıncı, left, the president of Turkish North Cyprus, and Nicos Anastasiades, the Greek Cypriots’ leader (Photo: Reuters)
António Guterres, centre, the UN secretary general with Mustafa Akıncı, left, the president of Turkish North Cyprus, and Nicos Anastasiades, the Greek Cypriots’ leader (Photo: Reuters)

UN-led talks in Geneva hoping to create a reunified Cyprus ended without a breakthrough on Thursday, leaving officials to reconvene later this month to readdress the issue of how any agreement could be militarily secured.

The two sides will meet again on 18 January to look again at the security question, before a fresh attempt to forge a complete political deal, the Guardian newspaper reported.

The UN secretary general, António Guterres, said he was confident the participants were determined to make a “last effort” to find a solution. There was no precise date set for the guarantors of the process – the Greek, Turkish and British foreign ministers – to meet again. Negotiators said much progress had been made on the shape of the deal, but more time was needed to agree how external actors could persuade islanders that any plan will be enforced.

Turkey is demanding that all Turkish Cypriots receive full rights to EU membership., while Greece is pressing for the 30,000 Turkish troops to leave the island over a fixed timetable and for Ankara to end its right to intervene.

Turkey has so far refused to make that concession, saying it is “out of the question.” Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said troops would remain unless Greece also agreed to withdraw its forces.

It is widely agreed the deal on security is dependent on how favourably the two communities view the agreement on the internal dossiers on governance, boundaries, compensation, the economy and relations with the EU.

Other key obstacles to a deal include the return of property to tens of thousands of Cypriots who fled their homes in 1974.

Erdogan added that a possible rotating presidency on Cyprus could be another. Instead of seeing four Greek Cypriot presidencies for every one by Turkish Cypriots, Erdogan said he wanted a 2:1 balance in Greece's favour instead.

Guterres stressed no one was looking for “miracles or a quick fix, but a solid and sustainable solution”.

“Our goal here is to get the necessary results and to do that we want to work seriously for the amount of time that is necessary,” he said.

Guterres said a deal was needed that satisfied both sides, pointing out any agreement would have to be put to the two communities in a referendum.

The island was split in a Turkish invasion in 1974, which was triggered by a coup organised by Greek and Greek Cypriot nationalists trying to unite the island with Greece.

The end goal of the talk is for the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities to share power in a two-state federation.

More in World