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UNO urges new talks for Cyprus
The new president of Cyprus met informally with the leader of
the Turkish Cypriot community last week to test the waters on
reviving stalemated talks to end the island’s ethnic division,
which has been a source of instability in the east Mediterranean
The two-hour meeting, hosted by the head of the UN
peacekeeping mission on the island Colin Stewart, was the first
for President-elect Nikos Christodoulides following his election
victory earlier this month.
The island’s division came about in 1974 when Turkey invaded in
the wake of a coup staged by the military junta of Greece and
supported by local ultra nationalists. Only Turkey recognizes a
Turkish Cypriot declaration of independence in the island’s
northern third and it maintains more than 35,000 troops there.
Cyprus joined the European Union in 2004, but only the
recognised Republic of Cyprus enjoys full membership benefits.
There had been a long-held understanding that any deal would
reunify Cyprus as a federation composed of a Turkish-speaking
zone in the north and a Greek speaking zone in the south. But
Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot leader are now seeking a two-
state deal that recognizes separate Turkish Cypriot sovereignty,
something that Greek Cypriots reject out of hand and which has
also been rejected by the European Union, the United Nations,
the US and other countries.
Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar has said there’s “no flexibility
or retreat” from the two-state proposal as well as a permanent
Turkish troop presence on the island and military intervention
rights for Ankara – all non-starters for the Greek Cypriot side.
Tatar raised the possibility of the two sides working together on
dealing with potential earthquakes on the island.
Christodoulides said that could be done through established
“technical committees” formed to foster cooperation on a wide
range of fields, such as restoration of cultural monuments on
Christodoulides said after the meeting that he “didn’t hear
anything that he wasn’t expecting” from Tatar, but that he had
proposed to the Turkish Cypriot leader to meet again socially
with their wives.
A potential deal could expedite the development of sizable
natural gas deposits off Cyprus’ southern shores amid Europe’s
energy crunch and remove a major thorn in the rocky
relationship between NATO allies Greece and Turkey.
“The EU has all the tools that could create a beneficial state of
affairs in which all sides will have nothing but to gain from a
Cyprus settlement,” Christodoulides said.
Adelaide, South Australia