UN envoy: No reunified Cyprus if peace talks fail

UN envoy: No reunified Cyprus if peace talks fail

It is unlikely Cyprus will ever be reunified if ongoing peace talks aimed at creating a federation collapse, a United Nations envoy said Nov. 30.

Alexander Downer said the latest round of negotiations between Greek Cypriots in the south and Turkish Cypriots in the north have not broken down. But he warned their failure would mean the end of trying to reunify Cyprus as a federation.

“If we reach a point where it’s just a complete deadlock and it’s obvious they’re not going to make an agreement and obvious they can’t shift from the deadlock, well then that’s probably the end of efforts to form a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation,” Downer told state-run CyBC TV.

The island joined the European Union in 2003, but only the south enjoys membership benefits. The two sides have been trying to strike a federation-based accord for decades, but numerous rounds of U.N.-mediated talks have led nowhere.

It was Downer’s clearest warning yet about the consequences of failure to end a dispute that is hampering Turkey’s own troubled EU membership bid. Downer said Nov. 30 there is no functional alternative to a federation deal. “If people think, for example, it’s possible to put together a united Cyprus without a bi-zonal bi-communal federation, they must have some optimism that I don’t think is shared in the United Nations,” he said. “I don’t think that frankly there is another model that can be made to work here.”

Some progress has been made in the ongoing talks that began more than three years ago amid high hopes of a peace deal, but important differences remain between Greek Cypriot President Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Derviş Eroğlu on core issues. These include power-sharing, what to do with private property lost during the war and military intervention rights to Turkey.

Eroğlu and Christofias met at the buffer zone in Nicosia yesterday as part of negotiations to find a solution to the Cyprus problem. The two leaders were scheduled to discuss issues under the heading “Management and Sharing of Power.”

Compiled from AA and AP stories by the Daily News staff.