Cypriot leaders set to meet UN chief on Sept 25 as part of peace talks
UNITED NATIONSThe two leaders on either side of Cyprus are set to meet United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Sept. 25 on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly, as part of efforts to solve the decades-long conflict on the divided Mediterranean island.
Coming after an eight-legged marathon of meetings in Nicosia under the auspices of U.N. Special Advisor on Cyprus Espen Barth Eide, Turkish Cypriot President Mustafa Akıncı and his Greek Cypriot counterpart Nicos Anastasiades will meet Ban in New York, where the two leaders held excessive diplomatic meetings with other heads of states.
The half-century-old Cyprus problem erupted after the island was granted independence from Britain in 1960, soon followed by an outbreak of inter-communal clashes in 1963. The island was ethnically divided between a Greek south and a Turkish north when the Turkish military intervened in 1974 under the terms of the 1960 Treaty of Guarantee after diplomacy failed to end unrest on the island and a coup on the island aimed at unification with Greece.
Efforts to find a peaceful solution to the conflict were relaunched after previously failed peace talks were opened once again in May 2015 following the election of Akıncı as the new president of Turkish Cyprus.
Speaking after meeting U.S. Vice President Joe Biden on Sept. 22, Akıncı said the U.S. was continuing to show its “utmost attention” to the process of solving the Cyprus conflict.
Akıncı also met with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and U.K. Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs Boris Johnson, and he is set to meet Ban in a one-on-one meeting on Sept. 24.
Anastasiades, who met Ban on Sept. 18, also met Biden and Steinmeier, as well as U.S. President Barack Obama, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi.
Addressing the U.N. General Assembly on Sept. 22, Anastasiades said that despite differences, the “ambitious goal” of reaching a peace deal within 2016 was still “achievable.”
“I do believe that this ambitious goal is achievable,” he said, despite differences on several issues relating to governance, European Union membership, economy, property, territory, security and guarantees.
“This year, following a series of frequent meetings between the two leaders, I have pleasure in informing you that progress has been achieved on important aspects of the ‘Cyprus problem,’” Anastasiades added.
The Greek Cypriot leader said he aimed at reaching a solution that creates a “win-win situation for all Cypriots” and addresses the expectations, sensitivities and concerns of both Turkish and Greek Cypriots.
In a Sept. 15 interview with Turkish Cypriot journalists, Akıncı had stressed that a peace deal was in reach within 90 days if both sides of the divided Mediterranean island were willing and decisive about the issue.