Cyprus leaders to hold talks in Switzerland in November

Cyprus leaders to hold talks in Switzerland in November

Cyprus leaders to hold talks in Switzerland in November Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot leaders have agreed to continue their talks next month in Switzerland to reach an agreement on reunification of the island before the end of 2016, the United Nations said Oct. 27 in Geneva.

Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akıncı and his Greek Cypriot counterpart Nicos Anastasiades will meet for intensive negotiations from Nov. 7 to Nov. 11 at Mont Pelerin, near Lake Geneva, in the presence of the U.N. envoy for Cyprus, Norwegian diplomat Espen Barth Eide, a U.N. spokesman said in a statement.

“The leaders expressed their hope that their meeting in Switzerland will pave the way for the last phase of the talks in line with their shared commitment to do their utmost in order to reach a settlement within 2016,” the statement said.

According to the U.N. spokesman, the meeting in Switzerland “will concentrate on the chapter of territory as well as all other outstanding issues interdependently.” 

The two have been negotiating since May 2015 under the auspices of the U.N. to end the division of the eastern Mediterranean island that has lasted more than 40 years.

A consensus has been reached in most of the topics under four out of the total of six chapters that are being negotiated, while the remaining two chapters - Security and Guarantees, and Territory – were left to the last stage of the talks. 

Turkish Cypriot Presidential spokesperson Barış Burcu refuted Oct. 27 claims by the Greek Cypriot government’s spokesperson, Nikos Christodoulides, that only the property and territory issues would be discussed in the intensive meetings in Switzerland. 

“Even though this meeting [in Mont Pelerin] is not an end on the way for a solution, it is an important step for clearing the way for a quintet meeting with the participation of the guarantor states, which will be the final phase of this [peace] process,” said Burcu in a written statement published on the Turkish Cypriot Presidency’s website on Oct. 27. 

Meanwhile, the European Union’s foreign policy chief was scheduled to meet with Akıncı and Anastasiades on Oct. 27. She was reported to be accompanied by European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides, who is a Greek Cypriot.

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.

The U.N.-brokered talks are seen as the best chance yet to end four decades of division.

If the two sides conclude on a peace blueprint, it has to go to public referendum.

A deal overseen by former U.N. chief Kofi Annan in 2004 was backed by a majority of Turkish Cypriot voters but overwhelmingly rejected by their Greek Cypriot counterparts. This meant that Greek Cyprus joined the European Union later that year, though the island remained divided.