Biden urges Cyprus leaders to resume talks

Biden urges Cyprus leaders to resume talks

Biden urges Cyprus leaders to resume talks

AFP photo

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden urged Greek Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot President Mustafa Akıncı to resume peace negotiations during separate phone calls on May 25, after the Greek Cypriot administration said they would not attend a planned meeting on May 27. 

Anastasiades canceled scheduled peace talks and cut short a visit to Turkey on May 24 after learning that Akıncı was also invited to an official dinner at U.N.’s World Humanitarian Summit (WHS) in Istanbul.

Biden encouraged Anastasiades to “seize the moment to negotiate a settlement that would reunify Cyprus as a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation,” a White House statement said.

“Subsequently, the Vice President spoke to Turkish Cypriot Leader Mustafa Akıncı to convey the same message,” urging both leaders to resume meetings as soon as possible.

Biden “pledged continued U.S. support to both sides” over the Mediterranean island’s reunification, the statement added.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops intervened its northern third in response to an Athens-inspired coup seeking union with Greece.

Long-stalled U.N.-brokered peace talks - seen as the best chance to reunify Cyprus - began in May 2015, with the leaders meeting regularly since then.

After meeting Akıncı on May 26 as scheduled, U.N. special envoy for Cyprus Espen Barth Eide said that there was a challenge and the situation was not optimal.

“We all recognize that the situation we have now is not optimal. We have a challenge that we need to work with,” said Eide, adding that “all of us need to reflect over what happened over the past days and to work jointly to see how we can overcome this current situation.” 

“Having worked very closely with both leaders over a long time I think that is [coming back to the table] what they are aiming at. But in order to get there we all have to do our part and that was very much the essence of this discussion [with Akıncı], which I will describe as a very honest, a very constructive, and a very positive and thorough conversation with Mr. Akıncı,” said Eide. 

While in Turkey, Akıncı also met U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on the sidelines of the summit.

Asked by reporters late on May 25 whether the United Nations had “set a trap” for Cyprus, Anastasiades was quoted by Agence France-Presse as saying it was a “matter of mishandling.” 

“I don’t think it is a matter of a trap. It is a matter of mishandlings which, however, will not be tolerated. I don’t accept for the Republic of Cyprus to be downgraded in any way,” he added.

On May 24, Akıncı called on Greek Cyprus to see “reason” and return to peace talks. 

“It is understood that the Greek Cypriot administration is showing an unmeasured reaction. Therefore, I say that it should act with reason and logic,” Akıncı was quoted as saying on May 24, in a text released on the presidency’s website.

Addressing prospects for a peace deal in a speech to a workers’ conference afterwards, Anastasiades said that “never, but never before, do I think there was another such good opportunity, as long as we all make use of it with mutual respect,” according to an official transcript.

Eide said that he is will meet with Anastasiades whenever he is ready. 

“My general attitude to life is that when you’re in disagreement with somebody the best thing you can do is to talk to them. So I am ready,” Eide said.