UN chief attends ‘final phase’ of Cyprus talks
CRANS-MONTANAThe presence of U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres at high-level talks to reunify the divided island of Cyprus offered a glimmer of hope that an impasse preventing a peace deal could be overcome, officials said on June 30.
However, when asked if rival sides had reached any common ground, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Çavuşoğlu said “not yet.”
Turkish Cypriot Foreign Minister Tahsin Ertuğruloğlu, said he welcomed remarks by Çavuşoğlu for his side, who had the day before stressed that “this is a final conference.”
Greek Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades called a morning round of discussions “creative” and said it “may allow for ways out of the impasse.”
Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias echoed Anastasiades, describing the U.N. chief’s presence at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana, where talks are being held, as “useful and beneficial.”
“The goal, as [Guterres] described it, is for Cyprus to be a normal state like any other U.N. member state,” Kotzias said.
Addressing the rival sides earlier, Guterres said in unscripted remarks that both “the emotional and rational” Mediterranean sides of Greeks and Turks are a strength that could be used to resolve problems holding back an agreement, according to an official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he’s not authorized to disclose details of the meeting.
Two days of talks have made no real progress on the core issue of the island’s future security that could unlock an overall peace accord.
Guterres is sounding out Anastasiades, Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akıncı and top diplomats from Cyprus’ “guarantors” - Greece, Turkey and Britain - on ways to bridge gaps preventing progress.
Turkey is rebuffing Greek and Greek Cypriot calls to remove all troops from Northern Cyprus after the island is reunified as a federation. Ankara insists any peace accord should grant Turkish citizens the right to relocate and transfer money, services and goods to the European Union member island.
Greek Cyprus joined the EU in 2004. The island was split in 1974 when Turkey made a military intervention following a coup staged by supporters of the union with Greece. Turkey has since stationed more than 35,000 troops in the north.
Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots want at least some of the troops to remain and enforce the peace after reunification under revised military rights accorded to the guarantor nations under Cyprus’ 1960’s constitution.
Greece and the Greek Cypriots want military rights abolished and all Turkish troops removed and replaced instead by a U.N. Security Council-backed international police force.
“We won’t allow anyone to ask for all or nothing,” Kotzias said before the start of talks on June 30.
Çavuşoğlu called on Greece and Greek Cypriots on June 29 to “wake up from their dream” that Turkey will withdraw all of its troops from Cyprus and give up military rights there as part of any agreement that the guarantees will be lifted.
“We thank [Çavuşoğlu] for expressing Turkey’s determined position over a vital issue, ‘security and guarantees,’” said Turkish Cypriot Minister Ertuğruloğlu.