UN chief António Guterres said Monday (25 November) he agreed to work towards setting up a new round of informal talks with rival Cypriot leaders, after the parties acknowledged at a Berlin meeting that any fresh discussions “must be different”.
Guterres had met the President of the Republic of Cyprus, Nicos Anastasiades, and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akıncı in the German capital for “informal, trilateral” talks that had raised hopes for a new impetus to revive long-stalled peace negotiations.
This is the first time Cyprus reunification talks are held in a capital of an EU country. Previously, such talks usually took place in Cyprus or in Switzerland. The Cyprus reunification talks are an EU-led process, and the EU has so far had little to say in it, despite the leverage of EU funding.
“I committed to explore with the Turkish Cypriot leader and the Greek Cypriot leader and with the Guarantor powers the possibility to convene an informal five-plus-UN meeting at an appropriate stage,” Guterres said in a statement.
The Guarantor powers are Britain, Turkey and Greece.
“It is acknowledged that this time must be different,” the UN secretary-general added.
In August, the leaders held an informal meeting in the buffer zone dividing the capital Nicosia, but failed to make any breakthrough in reviving talks.
Since a summit in Switzerland collapsed in July 2017, there has been no movement in UN-sponsored negotiations for the divided Mediterranean island.
Turkey has had troops stationed in the country since 1974 when it invaded and occupied its northern third after a coup sponsored by the military junta then ruling Greece.
The Greek Cypriot Republic of Cyprus controls the southern two-thirds of the island, which joined the European Union in 2004.
Only Ankara recognises the breakaway self-declared Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC). Turkey still maintains between 30,000 and 40,000 troops in the north.
In 2003, crossing points opened along the UN-patrolled “Green Line” which had until then hermetically divided the island in two.
Several rounds of UN-brokered talks on reunification have taken place down the years between Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot leaders, but they have always collapsed.