Cyprus talks reap first major progress in more than a decade

Cyprus talks reap first major progress in more than a decade

NICOSIA - Reuters
Cyprus talks reap first major progress in more than a decade

UN envoy Espen Barth Eide (C) speaks to the media while Greek Cypriot leader and Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades (R) and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci (L) look on at the United Nations offices in the buffer zone of Nicosia airport, May 28, 2015. REUTERS Photo

Greek and Turkish Cypriot leaders agreed May 28 to open further crossing points linking the two parts and to merge their electricity networks, a U.N. envoy has said. 

It was seen as the most positive sign in more than a decade that relations are thawing between the divided sides, Reuters concluded in its related report. Nikos Anastasiades, the Greek Cypriot leader, and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akıncı also agreed to look at ways of linking mobile telephone grids, U.N. adviser Espen Barth Eide said. “Mr. Akıncı and Mr. Anastasiades underlined once again their shared will and determination to reach a comprehensive settlement,” Eide told reporters after a meeting with the leaders in Nicosia. 

Long-running peace talks, halted for seven months, resumed this May after Akıncı, a leftist moderate, won the presidency in northern Cyprus in April. 

“The resumption of talks is a hugely positive step. I believe there is a common vision between the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot leaders, and the ambition to make rapid progress,” said Özdil Nami, the Turkish Cypriot negotiator in talks. 

Seven checkpoints linking the Greek and Turkish Cypriot sides have opened since 2003, facilitating the movement of thousands of Cypriots. 

Leaders said they would open two more, one in the southeast of the island close to the abandoned resort city of Varosha, and one in the more isolated northwest. Eide said Anastasiades and Akıncı “agreed on the desirability of mobile telephone interoperability.” “The two leaders want this issue to be solved,” he said.

Such a move could affect the profits of mobile telephone companies. Both sides charge international rates for a subscriber on one side calling a subscriber living on the other side. 

Meanwhile, Anadolu Agency reported that Armenia and Greek Cyprus have signed a new military pact in Yerevan, which paves way for the two countries to perform joint military exercises.

Armenian Defense Minister Seyran Ohanyan and Greek Cypriot Defense Minister Christoforos Fokaides signed the agreement in Yerevan on May 27.

Ohanyan told reporters that the project was for military cooperation in 2015 based on “friendship and mutual support in the field of defense.”

The Armenian minister said he had accepted Fokaides’ proposal to organize joint military exercises.

Armenia and Greek Cyprus have now signed more than 20 agreements in the fields of health, the economy, education, industry and the military.

The two countries signed a military technical cooperation plan in 2012.