UN says expert talks on Cyprus ‘successfully completed’
GENEVAThe United Nations said two days of expert-level talks on the possible reunification of Cyprus had ended on Jan. 19, describing them as a success but without disclosing any details.
The U.N.-backed negotiations in the alpine resort town of Mont Pelerin included Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot representatives as well as officials from Ankara, Athens and former colonial power Britain, the three guarantor states of the island.
Those parties were also in Geneva on Jan. 12 at a five-party conference trying to reach a deal to end one of the world’s longest running political crises.
“The working group, established during the high-level meeting [five-party conference] in Geneva on Jan. 12, successfully completed the mandate entrusted to it by the conference,” said U.N. special envoy for Cyprus Espen Barth Eide in a statement on Jan. 19.
That included “identifying specific questions related to the issue of security and guarantees and the instruments needed to address them.”
“The participants agreed not to disclose details about their discussion, as the proceedings of the conference have not yet concluded,” it stated, noting that the talks were held in a “positive spirit.”
While the Turkish Cypriot delegation at the working group meeting on Jan. 18-19 in Mont Pelerin was headed by chief negotiator Özdil Nami, the Turkish delegation was headed by Deputy Undersecretary of the Turkish Foreign Ministry Ahmet Muhtar Gün.
The thorniest issues in the peace talks are the security and guarantee topics. While Greek Cyprus and Greece want the guarantor system to be scrapped and all Turkish troops on the island to withdraw, Turkish Cyprus, who were subjected to violence by Greek Cypriots before the 1974 intervention, and Turkey oppose the idea and say while the guarantor system needs to continue, Turkey could withdraw its troops as long as the same amount of soldiers are decided to be stationed on the two parts of the island.
Earlier on Jan. 19, Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos said that if Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots want a solution, “there can neither be occupation troops nor guarantees,” AFP reported.
Pavlopoulos was speaking after meeting in Nicosia with his Greek Cypriot counterpart Nicos Anastasiades.
“Our common goal is to finally achieve a solution that is fully compatible with the European acquis [EU legislation] ... without the need to have any third country as a guarantor or troops of any country staying to protect supposedly one or the other community,” said Anastasiades, whose country has been an EU member since 2004.
The U.N. statement did not say when the foreign ministers of the five states would reconvene again to discuss the work achieved by the working group.
Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot President Mustafa Akıncı are scheduled to meet in Nicosia on Jan. 26, state-run Anadolu Agency cited diplomatic sources as saying on condition of anonymity. They are expected to talk about the political level of the five-party agreement, the sources said.