Cypriot rivals agree new checkpoints, but stop short of peace talks
The leaders of divided Cyprus agreed on Oct. 26 to open more checkpoints along the militarized frontier that separates them, marking a rare sign of cooperation in the deadlocked conflict.
Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akıncı and Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades met for the first time in about six months, but they stopped short of announcing the resumption of peace talks that collapsed last year.
The leaders had a “frank exchange of views” on the way forward, they said in a joint statement after meeting at a United Nations compound on the island on early on Oct. 26.
Akıncı and Anastasiades agreed to open one new checkpoint in the west of the island and another in the east. The crossing points are due to be opened on Nov. 12 and will ease interaction between populations estranged for decades until the first checkpoints opened in 2003.
There are presently seven checkpoints dotted along the 180-kilometer cease-fire line splitting Cyprus east to west, which is patrolled by U.N. peacekeepers.
“There’s a common will for peace, stability and cooperation on the basis of what has been discussed until now,” Anastasiades said as he arrived at the Presidential Palace after the meeting.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a report to the Security Council this week that he believes prospects for a comprehensive Cyprus settlement “remain alive” and he will prepare the way for talks to resume.
The island was after a Turkish intervention in 1974 triggered by a brief Greek-inspired coup.
U.N.-led peace talks between the two sides collapsed in Switzerland in July 2017.
The unilateral Greek Cypriot attempt for a natural gas and oil search off the island has become one of the main issues between the two sides. The matter also strains ties between NATO allies Greece and Turkey.