UN chief to host Cyprus meeting in April

File photo. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres delivers his statement during the opening of the High-Level Segment of the 43rd session of the Human Rights Council, at the European headquarters of the United Nations (UNOG) in Geneva, Switzerland, 24 February 2020. [Salvatore Di Nolfi/EPA/EFE]

UN Secretary General António Guterres will convene an informal meeting in April involving Greece,Turkey and Britain to explore a possible end to deadlocked Cyprus peace talks, his spokesman said Wednesday (24 February).

Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkey occupied its northern third in response to a coup orchestrated by the military junta then in power in Athens aimed at annexing the island to Greece.

There have been no official UN-sponsored negotiations on the island’s future since a conference in Switzerland — also involving Greece, Turkey and Britain — collapsed in 2017.

“The purpose of the meeting will be to determine whether common ground exists for the parties to negotiate a lasting solution to the Cyprus problem within a foreseeable horizon,” said the statement from Guterres’ spokesman.

The three countries act as guarantors of the island’s sovereignty under the treaty that gave Cyprus independence from British rule in 1960.

Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar is an advocate of a two-state solution or recognition for the self-proclaimed Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), recognised only by Ankara.

Tatar was elected in October on a hardline platform of seeking the two-state solution, rather than a bicommunal federation, a stance supported by Turkey.

The Republic of Cyprus, the only internationally recognized one, is a member of the European Union and exercises its authority over the southern part of the Mediterranean island.

Obstacles to the peace process include rising tensions in the eastern Mediterranean over conflicting claims to offshore oil and gas.

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