Monday 18 December 2017

Greek, Turkish FMs head for Cyprus after failed UN talks

Greek, Turkish FMs head for Cyprus after failed UN talks
(AFP 07/17/17)

The foreign ministers of Greece and Turkey are due in Cyprus on Tuesday on separate missions to review the way forward after UN-backed reunification talks collapsed in Switzerland earlier this month.

Greece's Nikos Kotzias is to meet President Nicos Anastasiades and attend a national council meeting of Greek Cypriot party political leaders on the way forward at a time when the negotiations seem dead in the water.

The Greek Cypriot side will also discuss whether a change in strategy is needed and see what can be done to overcome the impasse in efforts to end more than 40-years of division.

"This is within the framework of coordination between Athens and Nicosia for the next steps and, more specifically, (the presence of the Greek foreign minister) concerns our approach on security and guarantees," Cyprus government spokesman Nicos Christodoulides told reporters.

Also on Tuesday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu is to hold talks in breakaway northern Cyprus, Ankara announced.

The negotiations between Anastasiades and his Turkish Cypriot counterpart Mustafa Akinci broke down in the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana on July 6 after the United Nations failed to broker a compromise deal on a new security arrangement for a post-solution Cyprus.

Greece wanted to end the right of intervention on Cyprus it holds with Britain and Turkey, while Nicosia was also pushing for a withdrawal of Turkish troops on the Mediterranean island and EU member state.

The talks in Switzerland failed to overcome these obstacles, leaving a UN-led push that ran for more than two years -- the latest in a long list of aborted bids to find an elusive settlement -- in limbo.

In an editorial on Monday, the Cyprus Mail, a Greek Cypriot daily, said: "The only target left is an agreement on partition...

"Perhaps we could secure the return of some territory, come to an agreement on the exploitation of natural gas that would allow the pursuit of our energy plans without the uncertainty caused by Turkey’s threats and sign a friendship/cooperation agreement with the north."

Since the talks collapsed, Greece and Turkey have entered into a war of words over who was to blame, while Anastasiades has indicated he is willing to continue where negotiations left off.

But there is no sign the United Nations is willing to revive the process as this stage.

UN mediator Espen Barth Eide is to brief the Security Council on Wednesday, a day before the 43rd anniversary of the Turkish invasion of northern Cyprus, on the failure of the talks.

The briefing in New York comes ahead of a vote, scheduled for July 24, on the future of the UN peacekeeping force deployed on the island since 1964 following intercommunal violence.

The eastern Mediterranean island has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded its northern third in response to an Athens-inspired coup seeking union with Greece.

Turkey maintains some 35,000 troops in the north, while Akinci heads a self-declared statelet recognised only by Ankara.

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