Leaders to speed up talks on Cyprus
President Eroğlu (L) shakes hands with the UN envoy, Eide, in Nicosia. AP photoCypriot leaders agreed yesterday to try to speed up the pace of slow-moving peace talks to resolve outstanding issues in the decades-old conflict, a U.N. envoy said.
Turkish and Greek Cypriot leaders launched a fresh round of peace talks in February to end more than 40 years of division but have multiple disagreements to resolve, from future governance to territory handovers.
The latest talks, which had until now focused on submitting proposals, would now move into “structured negotiations,” United Nations envoy Espen Barth Eide said. “They (the leaders) have instructed their negotiators to enter into active negotiations with a view to bridging the gap through real negotiation on unresolved core issues,” said Eide, a former Norwegian foreign minister appointed U.N. special adviser for Cyprus last month. The process would involve placing all unresolved differences on the table to be addressed in a “negotiating format,” Eide told reporters after meeting Turkish Cypriot leader Derviş Eroğlu and Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades at a U.N. compound in Nicosia. The United Nations would be ready to assist in coming up with ideas to bridge any gaps. There were, Eide said, “clear differences of opinion” on some issues.
Eroğlu and Anastasiades agreed to increase the pace of meetings to at least twice a month, Eide added. Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has suggested that he and his Greek counterpart, Antonis Samaras, should meet for a spot of tea on both sides of Cyprus to find a solution. “If Mr. Greek Prime Minister [Samaras] is ready, we can first go to the southern [Greek] side of the island, drink tea together and have a chat. Then we can go to the northern side and again spend time together,” he said on Sept. 16 during his official visit to Turkish Cyprus after being elected.