Leaders start marathon talks for Cyprus peace
NICOSIATurkish and Greek Cypriot leaders began a marathon of seven meetings on Aug. 23, which Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akıncı has said were crucial as they would set the basis of a quintet conference for a peaceful solution of the conflict that could be established before the U.N. General Assembly in September.
Greek Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and Akıncı met on Aug. 23 at the United Nations HQ in Cyprus’s Nicosia under the auspices of the U.N. Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Cyprus, Espen Barth Eide.
This meeting marked the first of seven meetings that will continue until Sept. 14, after which the U.N. General Assembly will take place.
The Mediterranean island has been divided since 1974 when Turkey partially intervened into the north after a coup aimed at unification with Greece.
Akıncı and Anastasiades re-launched peace talks in May 2105, under the guidance of the United Nations. Since then the two leaders have engaged in multiple meetings in order to find a peaceful solution to the more than 40-year-old conflict.
Speaking after the meeting with his Greek Cypriot counterpart, Akıncı said the following three weeks were very important as with a reconciliation being reached at these meetings, “we aim to come together with the U.N. secretary-general in New York and aim for this to open the process that will take us to a quintet conference.”
Akıncı stressed that all of this hinged on how the seven meetings would proceed.
He said a joint statement was possible on the last day of the meetings on Sept. 14, adding that their aim was to minimize the differences between the two parties.
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden held separate phone calls with Akıncı and Anastasiades on Aug. 19 congratulating them both on progress in talks on reunifying the country, the White House stated.
“The vice president expressed hope that the leaders would be able to make significant additional progress in the talks before their travel to the United Nations General Assembly, and that an agreement could be reached by the end of 2016,” the White House said in a statement.