ANKARA / GENEVA
As the leaders of divided Cyprus settled down for a week of intense talks on Jan. 9, seeking to reach the outline of a peace deal to end decades of separation, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu has vowed that Ankara
would never withdraw from its guarantor position on the island.
Addressing Turkish ambassadors gathered in Ankara
for an annual conference on Jan 9, Çavuşoğlu also said Turkey would continue its positive will and stance in the Geneva talks and expects a similar attitude from all other participating parties.
“As blood spills in many places across the world, peace reigns Cyprus and the reason for this is the guarantee provided by Turkey. This guarantee cannot be abandoned,” he said, pledging that Ankara
would “not leave Turkish Cyprus alone,” regardless of the outcome of the Geneva conference.
Hoping to succeed where others failed, Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akıncı and Greek
Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades were meeting in Geneva for three full days of discussions starting on Jan. 9.
The talks would subsequently broaden to Britain, Turkey and Greece
on Jan. 12. The three are guarantor powers of Cyprus under a 1960 treaty that granted the former colony independence.
As he arrived at the United Nations European headquarters and was asked if he was optimistic, Anastasiades said: “Ask me when we are finished.”
New U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who was expected to attend the conference on Jan. 12, has described the talks as an “historic opportunity” for a breakthrough.
Power-sharing, redrawing property boundaries and security issues in a future reunited homeland are key sticking points in negotiations that have resulted in logjams in the past.
However, mediators are keen to capitalize on the momentum of two moderates at the helm of their communities before domestic election cycles dislodge the process.
“We must be cautious. We are not pessimistic, but I see no need for exaggerated expectations that everything will just happen. We are expecting a difficult week,” Akıncı said on Jan. 8.
and Turkish Cypriots have lived estranged since 1974, when Turkey intervened the island’s north after a Greek-inspired coup.