Cypriot leaders committed to deal, gap remains
AA photoThe leaders of the Turkish and Greek sides of Cyprus are committed to reaching a peace deal before the year ends, but gaps on controversial issues remain, a United Nations special envoy has said.
Speaking after the final meeting of a series of intensified meetings between Turkish Cypriot President Mustafa Akıncı and Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades, the U.N. Secretary-General’s special Adviser for Cyprus Espen Barth Eide said.
“Cognizant of the remaining challenges, the two leaders are committed to continuing and intensifying their efforts in these leader-led negotiations in the coming months with the aim of reaching a comprehensive settlement agreement within 2016,” Eide said on Sept. 14 in Nicosia on behalf of Akıncı and Anastasiades, reading from a written statement.
The eastern Mediterranean island was divided into a Turkish Cypriot state in the north and a Greek Cypriot state in the south after a 1974 military coup aimed at unification with Greece was followed by the intervention of Turkey as a guarantor power.
Efforts to find a peaceful solution to the more than 40-year-old conflict were relaunched after previously failed peace talks were opened once again in May 2015 following the election of Akıncı as the new president of Turkish Cyprus.
“In addition to holding substantive discussions on a number of issues, the leaders today took stock of the progress after 16 months of negotiations, into which a very significant amount of work, time and effort have been invested,” Eide said.
The U.N. envoy said significant progress had been achieved “on many of the outstanding issues on the Chapters of Governance and Power-Sharing, Economy, the European Union matters and Property.”
“However, certain substantial divergences still remain,” he warned.
Eide added that the two leaders exchanged views and positions, in a brainstorming manner, on the Chapters of Security and Guarantees, as well as Territory, two of the most controversial topics of the peace talks.
“Although these initial exchanges have demonstrated that the respective views remain apart, there is a strong determination to resolve them in a mutually acceptable manner,” he said.
Eide stated that the two leaders would hold a joint meeting with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Sept. 25 in New York.
“They will take stock of the state of play in the negotiations, inform him of their achievements to date, as well as of the challenges ahead. They will exchange views with him and will request that he intensify his personal engagement in the process in the months to come,” he added.