Cyprus talks relocate to Switzerland, hopes for deal by year-end

The UN's demilitarised buffer zone, which has been in place since the 1960s. [James Crisp/Flickr]

The Cyprus peace negotiations will be relocating to Switzerland this week, as the island nation’s Greek and Turkish leaders look to make progress on some of the most difficult issues hampering reunification. EURACTIV Spain reports.

Greek-Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and his Turkish-Cypriot counterpart Mustafa Akıncı indicated on Sunday (6 November) that this stage of the negotiations is a very crucial one. It has been a bumpy road to this point, from stagnating talks to an agreement that was rejected by Greek-Cypriots in a referendum.

“I will use all of my efforts to get a solution that leaves no winners or losers, but which is worthy for everyone,” Anastasiades told local media on Friday (4 November).

He added that “I want to return with good news… this island deserves much more and deserves a better future”. Akıncı, also interviewed on Friday, reiterated his hopes that an agreement can be reached later this year.

Cyprus meeting yields 'roadmap' to reunification

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.

Since reunification talks were restarted 17 months ago by the two leaders, 129 meetings have been held and significant progress has been made, but big points of difference still exist between the two parties.

This new rounds of talks is going to be held in Switzerland, far from local pressures, in the presence of outgoing UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. One of the thorniest issues is set to be broached, as the two parties talk about what the future map will look like and where administrative boundaries will fall.

The territorial issue includes the Greek-Cypriot side’s demand that at least 100,000 of the 220,000 citizens expelled in 1974 be allowed to return, as well as control over more coastline. Anastasiadis wants Greek-Cypriots to be able to return to the cities of Morphou and Famagusta, which have been under Turkish-Cypriot de facto control since the Turkish invasion.

If the parties reach an agreement on these criteria, then talks will move on to drawing up maps and a date will be set for more talks on security, according to Turkish-Cypriot newspaper Kibris. This is also a complicated matter, given that the two communities are so far apart in their starting positions. Greece, Turkey and the UK will have to be involved, given that they guaranteed Cypriot independence in 1960.

Cyprus will develop offshore gas irrespective of reunification

Cyprus will continue its project of developing offshore gas, keeping this dossier “completely separate” from the negotiations for the reunification of the island, the Cypriot Minister of Energy, Yorgos Lakkotrypis, said today (26 May).

Turkey and the Turkish-Cypriot side insist that any future deal on a federal state will have to once again involve guarantor states, while the Greeks believe that this is an anachronism.

The UK has said that it will remain neutral.

The aim of the agreement is to unite Cyprus under one single international identity, one citizenship and sovereignty, but still split into two federal states.

Turkey invaded the northern part of Cyprus in 1974 and currently maintains a presence of about 30,000 soldiers.

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