Cypriot leaders celebrate one year in negotiations
NICOSIAThe leaders of the two communities on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus have jointly celebrated the first anniversary of the re-launching of United Nations-brokered talks to find a peaceful solution to the more than 40-year-old conflict.
Turkish Cypriot President Mustafa Akıncı and his Greek Cypriot counterpart, Nicos Anastasiades, said in a joint statement that they remained committed to the goal of reunification of the island.
“We also would like to underline our commitment to intensify our efforts in the coming months with the aim of reaching a comprehensive settlement agreement within 2016,” read the joint statement issued on May 14, to mark the first anniversary of “the talks as the two leaders as well as our commitment to work tirelessly to reach a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus question on the basis of the joint statement of February 2014.”
“Our common goal is a win-win solution that will take into account [the] concerns and rights of all in a future united Cyprus,” the statement underlined.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops intervened on the island’s northern side in response to an Athens-inspired coup seeking union with Greece.
A referendum in 2004 saw a majority of Turkish Cypriots back reunification while more than three quarters of Greek Cypriots voted against it.
The two leaders relaunched the peace talks in May 2015 one month after Akıncı was elected the new president of the Turkish Cypriot administration.
The ultimate goal on the island is a unified, federal Cyprus but any deal would involve both sides making compromises on territorial and property rights.
“Although there are still difficulties and differences, we are determined to show the necessary will and courage to overcome the remaining outstanding issues,” the joint statement said.
Defining the past year as “a year of intensive negotiations,” the two leaders expressed their “satisfaction with the essential progress that has been achieved to date.”
Speaking at a session at the Davos Economic Summit in January, Anastasiades and Akıncı said a deal was possible in 2016.
“We would like to recall our joint belief that a just and lasting settlement will not only bring peace and prosperity to Cyprus but will also set a good example and contribute to stability and cooperation in the region,” the leaders said on May 14.
Top foreign diplomats from the U.K., the U.S., Russia, China and the EU have visited the two administrations over the past year to help encourage the leaders to make game-changing decisions.
Akıncı told Hürriyet Daily News on April 7 that the May 22 parliamentary elections of the Greek Cypriot administration affected the peace negotiations.
“The Greek side does not like it when I say it, but this is a truth: There are parliamentary elections there on May 22. This unavoidably affects the negotiations table, because we are going through a sensitive era and attitudes during the election process change things,” Akıncı had said.