Greek and Turkish Cypriot leaders have agreed to continue their talks next month in Switzerland to try and reach an agreement on reunification of the island before the end of 2016, a UN spokesman announced Wednesday (26 October).
Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci and the President of the Republic of Cyprus Nicos Anastasiades will meet from 7-11 November at Mont Pelerin, near Lake Geneva, in the presence of the UN envoy for Cyprus, Norwegian diplomat Espen Barth Eide, the spokesman said in Geneva.
The two have been negotiating since May 2015 under the auspices of the UN to end the division of the eastern Mediterranean island that has lasted 40 years.
“The leaders expressed their hope that their meeting in Switzerland will pave the way for the last phase of the talks,” the statement said.
Negotiations have so far made progress on governance and power sharing.
But differences remain on the question of territorial arrangements, property rights and security.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon pledged yesterday (25 September) to play a greater role in stepped-up efforts to reach a deal on settling the decades-old conflict in Cyprus before the end of the year.
According to the UN spokesman, the meeting in Switzerland “will concentrate on the chapter of territory as well as all other outstanding issues”.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded the northern part of the Mediterranean island following an Athens-inspired coup by Greek Cypriots seeking union with Greece.
The UN-brokered talks are seen as the best chance yet to end four decades of division.
A deal overseen by former UN chief Kofi Annan in 2004 was backed by a majority of Turkish Cypriot voters but overwhelmingly rejected by their Greek Cypriot counterparts.
This meant that Cyprus joined the European Union later that year still divided. The north is governed by the self-proclaimed Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, which is recognised only by Turkey.
A website in Cyprus has published what looks like the blueprint of an agreement for the reunification of the island, divided since 1974.