New president of divided Cyprus sees reset of peace talks

Nicosia – Cyprus’ new president Thursday to try the waters to revive stalemate negotiations to end the island’s ethnic divisions that have contributed to instability in the eastern Mediterranean for decades. Informal talks with Turkish Cypriot leaders.

Hosted by the head of the UN peacekeeping mission on the island, the meeting will be the first for president-elect Nikos Christodoulides, who won elections earlier this month. The fact that it is being done even before Christodulides officially takes office on his March 1st is meant to underscore his election promise to keep the peace deal as a top priority. .

But the talks themselves are not an immediate breakthrough, as seemingly insurmountable obstacles still stand in the way of peace talks. Chief among these obstacles is a turnaround by Turkey and its minority of Turkic Cypriots regarding the form of the agreed deal after the recent failure to seek peace at the Swiss resort in the summer of 2017. .

The division of the island occurred in 1974 when Turkey invaded in the wake of a coup aimed at unifying it with Greece. Only Turkey has recognized the Turkic Cypriot’s declaration of independence in the northern third of the island, where he maintains more than 35,000 troops. Cyprus joined her EU in 2004, but only southern Greek Cyprus enjoys full membership benefits.

There was a longstanding understanding that Cyprus would be reunited as a federation consisting of a Turkic-speaking country in the north and a Greek-speaking country in the south. However, Turkey and Turkish-Cypriots are now seeking a bilateral agreement that recognizes independent Turkish-Cypriot sovereignty, something that Greek-Cypriots are out of control, and the European Union, United Nations , has been rejected by the United States and other countries.

Turkey’s Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar said this week there was room for dialogue, but warned there would be “no flexibility or setbacks” from the two-state proposal, adding a permanent Turkish military presence on the island. Granted the right to intervene in Ankara.

“You can never bury your head in the sand and force reconciliation on us by saying, ‘This is what the EU says,'” Tatar was quoted as saying. “Our red line is our sovereignty.”

The Tatar prime minister said at Thursday’s meeting that he would raise the possibility of cooperation between the two countries to deal with possible earthquakes on the island.

Christodoulides told the Associated Press that he is “fully aware” of the obstacles, but “that doesn’t mean we have to do everything possible to break through the current impasse. ”.

The president-elect said the key to any peace deal would be the active engagement of the EU in UN-led peace talks through appointments by EU leaders with “strong political personalities”.

He said Turkey would be more likely to agree to a deal if it delivered what it has long asked for, such as upgrading its customs union with the EU, visa-free travel for its citizens and lifting the freeze on bids to join the EU. Said it could be something. negotiation table.

A potential deal could facilitate the development of sizable natural gas deposits off Cyprus’ southern coast amid Europe’s energy crisis and remove a major thorn in the rocky relationship between NATO allies Greece and Turkey. increase.

“The EU has all the tools to create a beneficial situation in which all sides have nothing more to gain than from a Cyprus settlement,” said Christodoulides.

Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

https://www.local10.com/business/2023/02/23/divided-cyprus-new-president-scopes-out-peace-talks-reset/ New president of divided Cyprus sees reset of peace talks

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