Cypriot leaders to meet in Switzerland for ‘intense talks’
ISTANBUL - Anadolu Agency
AA photoTurkish and Greek Cypriot leaders will meet for intensive negotiations from Nov. 7 at Mont Pelerin, near Lake Geneva, in the presence of the U.N. envoy for Cyprus, Norwegian diplomat Espen Barth Eide, in U.N.-backed peace talks aimed at solving one of the world’s longest-running political crises.
Negotiations that will continue until Nov. 11 are due to discuss the previously intractable issue of territorial adjustments on the Mediterranean resort island, divided since 1974, when Turkey intervened in response to an Athens-inspired coup seeking union with Greece.
The talks between Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades and his Turkish Cypriot counterpart Mustafa Akıncı began 17 months ago and have been billed as the island’s last best chance for an enduring peace deal.
Akıncı met President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Istanbul on Nov. 5 ahead of the talks.
Erdoğan and Akıncı agreed to stay determined to resolve issues through negotiations in the upcoming talks in Mont Pelerin.
The two presidents noted that negotiations were at a sensitive juncture, agreeing that a bi-zonal and bi-communal social structure must be legally secured and a system of guarantees must also be determined.
Greek Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades, meawhile, said on Nov. 4 that Turkey’s input will be pivotal in overcoming key obstacles preventing a deal to reunify Cyprus.
Anastasiades said he and Akıncı had made significant progress on numerous issues making an envisioned federation workable. Those issues include ensuring the country’s economic viability and the right of all citizens to live and work wherever they choose.
But he said it’ll take the “resolute contribution” of Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot leadership to reach agreement on core issues such as security and how much territory either side will administer under an envisioned federal state.
Five days of intensive talks will concentrate directly on territory issues. Officials say sufficient progress on this key issue would pave the way for a final summit to hammer out a comprehensive deal encompassing security matters.
Anastasiades said progress in the talks means both sides must produce maps showing how much territory will fall in the administrative zone of each federal state.
The territorial component of a peace deal is crucial - Anastasiades said at least 100,000 Greek Cypriots must reclaim homes and property lost in the war, which would bolster support for any deal, which will be put to a vote in both communities.
Anastasiades said in a televised news conference “there’s no chance” he would accept moving onto a final phase of talks if no maps are produced.
But in a separate news conference, Akıncı said maps will only appear during final the phase of talks where Britain, Greece and Turkey will join discussions to tackle the difficult issue of security.
Anastasiades ruled out allowing Turkey to retain any military intervention rights in Cyprus or to keep troops on the ground after a deal, something that Turkish Cypriots insist is crucial to their security.
“A European state has no need of either guarantors or occupation troops,” Anastasiades said.
Akıncı suggested such security guarantees could be abolished in time, but not before Turkish Cypriots feel assured their security isn’t compromised.
The Turkish Cypriot leader said all citizens could live where they choose in a reunified island, but only a fifth of Greek Cypriots opting to live in the Turkish Cypriot-run zone would be granted voting rights there.
He said 8 billion euros ($8.87 billion) would be enough to cover the cost of an accord.
“This land is enough for all of us,” Akıncı said, adding, “It would be a great same if we miss this historic opportunity.”