Turkish, Greek Cypriot leaders to meet in September for talks

Turkish, Greek Cypriot leaders to meet in September for talks

Turkish, Greek Cypriot leaders to meet in September for talks

Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akıncı and Greek Cypriot leader Nikos Anastasiades met on Aug. 9 after a five-month break and agreed to meet again in September.

The agenda of the two leaders included drilling operations around the island of Cyprus, steps to open the desolate Varosha (Maras) town and resuming settlement talks which ended two years ago. The two leaders agreed to another meeting in September.

The leaders met in the buffer zone at the official residence of Elizabeth Spehar, the head the U.N. peacekeeping force on Cyprus. Their meeting lasted three-and-a-half hours.

A U.N. spokesman said the Greek and Turkish Cypriot leaders are ready to meet with the U.N. secretary-general next month to map out the next steps toward a hoped-for resumption of formal reunification talks.

Spokesman Aleem Siddique said the two leaders also decided to carry on discussions with U.N. envoy for Cyprus Jane Holl Lute to prepare the framework for “structured and results-oriented” negotiations leading to a peace deal “with a sense of urgency.”

“I am going to the meeting with Akıncı aiming for a viable solution in Cyprus,” Anastasiades told reporters on his way to the meeting with Akıncı.

“We must take into account the concerns of Turkish Cypriots as well as those of Greek Cypriots. Ankara needs to change its attitude. If she wants to help with a solution, she must show goodwill and end the illegal [natural gas] activities that disrupt the positive environment,” he stated.

The Turkish Cypriot government in June decided to turn Varosha, which has remained abandoned and uninhabited for 45 years, into a major tourist destination. .

“We cannot accept something that will somehow involve the Greek Cypriot side in the Varosha process,” Turkish Cypriot Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Kudret Özersay said earlier.

The former resort suburb of Famagusta was abandoned and declared a buffer zone between the communities of the island after the Turkish military intervened as a guarantor power following a Greece-inspired coup attempt in 1974.

In 1983, the Turkish Cypriot State was founded.

The decades since have seen several attempts to resolve the dispute, however, all failing. The latest one, held with the participation of the guarantor countries — Turkey, Greece, and the U.K. — ended in 2017 in Switzerland.

In 2004, in twin referendums, a plan to reunify Cyprus by then-U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan was accepted by Turkish Cypriots but rejected by Greek Cypriots.

Talks had focused on a federal model, based on the political equality of the Turkish and Greek Cypriot sides, but Greek Cypriots’ rejection of such a solution, including the Annan Plan, led to the emergence of other models.

The latest attempt of efforts for resolution, held with the participation of the guarantor countries came to an end without any progress in 2017 in Switzerland.

Turkey has consistently contested the Greek Cypriot administration’s unilateral drilling in the Eastern Mediterranean, asserting that Turkish Cyprus has similar rights on the resources in the area.

Greek Cyprus recently rejected a Turkish Cypriot proposal for cooperation on the joint exploration and profit-sharing of hydrocarbon resources.

Ankara, meanwhile, has sent two drilling ships to search for gas in the waters off the divided island, prompting accusations from Greek Cyprus, Greece and the EU that it is undermining security in the region.