Cypriot leaders aim for peace deal in 2016

Cypriot leaders aim for peace deal in 2016

Cypriot leaders aim for peace deal in 2016

U.N. member of the Committee on Missing Persons (CMP) Paul Henri Arni (R) talks with Greek Cypriot leader and Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades (C) and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akıncı outside the CMP Anthropological Laboratory in the buffer zone of Nicosia airport December 20, 2015. REUTERS/Yiannis Kourtoglou

Cypriot leaders on Dec. 20 wrapped up their U.N.-brokered peace negotiations for 2015 with the hope that next year will bring an elusive reunification deal for the divided island.

“Keeping in mind that a just and lasting settlement in Cyprus will be an example for the broader region, the leaders express their sincere hope that 2016 will bring peace, security and prosperity in Cyprus and beyond,” they said in a joint statement, according to Agence France-Presse.

Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akıncı and his Greek Cypriot counterpart Nicos Anastasiades issued the statement after holding their last meeting of 2015.

They evaluated the status of negotiations since they began on May 15 and “expressed their satisfaction with the progress that has been achieved to date.”

But “while acknowledging that the tasks ahead remain difficult, the leaders are determined to maintain the positive momentum of the talks,” the statement said.

Their next meetings are planned for Jan. 7, 14 and 29, with the aim “of reaching a comprehensive settlement as soon as possible.”

On Dec. 20, the two leaders also met with members of a U.N.-sponsored committee on missing persons from the island’s conflicts.

To end the island’s four-decade-old division, Anastasiades and Akıncı face thorny issues such as territorial adjustments, power sharing, security arrangements and property rights that have stymied countless previous initiatives.

The leaders are working on a formula to resolve the issues of property and territorial adjustment that would create a united, federal Cyprus.

Without a solid compromise on property and territory, a solution would be hard to sell to their respective communities.

And any peace accord must be ratified by Cypriots at the ballot box.

Tens of thousands of Cypriots were displaced after the 1974 Turkish invasion following a coup attempt by Greece to unite the island with the mainland, when a population exchange effectively split the island between a Turkish Cypriot north and a Greek Cypriot south.