UN Security Council urges sides to keep momentum of Cyprus talks
UNITED NATIONSThe United Nations Security Council pressed Greek and Turkish Cypriots on Jan. 23 to keep the “momentum” in talks for possible reunification of the island.
“We urge all the parties to maintain the momentum and seize the opportunity they now have to secure a historic agreement,” Swiss envoy Olof Skogg, who holds the rotating presidency this month, said after a closed-door session, according to AFP.
Cyprus, home to about a million inhabitants, has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops intervened in response to an Athens-inspired coup seeking union with Greece.
The U.N. Security Council meeting came a few days after two days of expert-level talks on the possible reunification of Cyprus with the participation of Turkish Cyprus, Greek Cyprus and the three guarantor powers – Turkey, Greece and the United Kingdom – had ended on Jan. 19, which the U.N. described as a success but without disclosing any details.
The expert-level working group talks was decided upon on Jan. 12 at a five-party conference on Cyprus in Geneva, following three days of negotiations by the Turkish and Greek Cypriot administrations under the auspices of the U.N.
Special U.N. envoy Espen Barth Eide gave updates on the talks to ambassadors from the council’s 15 member countries.
He acknowledged there were still “key difficult issues to solve,” especially concerning security guarantees.
“One community traditionally sees the presence of Turkish troops as part of a solution, while the other sees it as part of the problem,” he said.
The thorniest issues in the peace talks are the security and guarantee topics. While Greek Cyprus and Greece want the guarantor system to be scrapped and all Turkish troops on the island to withdraw, Turkish Cypriots, who were subjected to violence by Greek Cypriots before the 1974 intervention, and Turkey oppose the idea and say that while the guarantor system needs to continue, Turkey could withdraw its troops as long as the same amount of soldiers are stationed on the two parts of the island.
Eide suggested negotiators were seeking a more comprehensive solution, without providing further details.
“Security in Cyprus needs to be understood on several layers,” he said, pointing to constitutional issues, internal and external security, as well as mechanisms to ensure an eventual agreement would be respected.
“We are looking for potential new answers,” Eide said.
He expressed hope of holding a new multilateral conference on the Mediterranean island’s future in the coming weeks.