Greek Cyprus rejects Turkish Cypriot’s ‘calendar’ proposal for peace talks
Ömer Bilge – NICOSIAGreek Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades has rejected a calendar proposal demanded by Turkish Cypriot President Mustafa Akıncı for the peace talks to end with a deal before the end of 2016, at a trilateral meeting with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon over the weekend.
Tense moments were experienced during the one-and-a-half-hour trilateral meeting on Sept. 25 in New York on the sidelines of the 71st General Assembly of the United Nations, after Anastasiades strongly opposed a calendar in order to put a road map forth for the coming steps of the peace talks on the eastern Mediterranean island.
After meeting with Ban on Sept. 24, Akıncı said he expected a “road map” to be agreed to during the trilateral meeting to turn recent progress in the talks into a “real success story.”
The meeting was scheduled to last 45 minutes but ran twice as long and due to Anastasiades’ strong opposition to Akıncı’s road map request, Ban suffered from high blood pressure, Greek Cypriot media reported.
Reports stated that the secretary-general did not oppose Anastasiades’ rejection.
Speaking after the trilateral meeting alongside the two presidents, Ban pledged to play a greater role in stepped-up efforts to reach a deal on settling the decades-old conflict on Cyprus before the end of the year.
Ban praised the two men for their decision to intensify negotiations with a view to reaching a deal in 2016.
“The leaders asked me to step up my personal engagement in the process,” Ban said.
“I stand ready to support them in whatever they may require, including on the international dimensions of the issue.”
The half-century-old Cyprus problem erupted after the island was granted independence from Britain in 1960, soon followed by an outbreak of inter-communal clashes in 1963. The island was ethnically divided between a Greek south and a Turkish north when the Turkish military intervened in 1974 under the terms of the 1960 Treaty of Guarantee after diplomacy failed to end unrest on the island and a coup on the island aimed at unification with Greece.
Efforts to find a peaceful solution to the 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.
“The period ahead will be crucial for Cyprus,” Ban said. “Time is of the essence. The United Nations and I will do our utmost to promote a successful outcome,” he pledged.
Meanwhile, U.N. Special Advisor Espen Barth Eide said that reaching a peace deal within 2016 was bold but feasible.
“So it’s a bold statement, it’s ambitious but it’s feasible,” Eide said in an interview with the U.N. Department of Political Affairs’ Politically Speaking magazine.