NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) — The brand new president of Cyprus is assembly informally with the chief of the breakaway Turkish Cypriots on Thursday to check the waters on reviving stalemated talks to finish the island’s ethnic division that has been a supply of instability within the east Mediterranean for many years.
The assembly, hosted by the top of the U.N. peacekeeping mission on the island, would be the first for President-elect Nikos Christodoulides following his election victory earlier this month. The truth that it’s going down even earlier than Christodoulides formally assumes workplace on March 1 goals to underscore a marketing campaign pledge to maintain a peace deal as an overriding precedence.
However the assembly itself isn’t any harbinger of a breakthrough anytime quickly, as a result of seemingly insurmountable obstacles nonetheless stand in the way in which of a peace deal. Chief amongst these obstacles is an about-face by Turkey and the minority Turkish Cypriots concerning the agreed-upon form of a deal after the newest failed push for peace at a Swiss resort in the summertime of 2017.
The island’s division took place in 1974 when Turkey invaded within the wake of a coup aimed toward union with Greece. Solely Turkey acknowledges a Turkish Cypriot declaration of independence within the island’s northern third and it maintains greater than 35,000 troops there. Cyprus joined the European Union in 2004, however solely the Greek Cypriot south enjoys full membership advantages.
There had been a long-held understanding that any deal would reunify Cyprus as a federation composed of a Turkish-speaking zone within the north and a Greek talking zone within the south. However Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots are actually searching for a two-state deal that acknowledges separate Turkish Cypriot sovereignty, one thing that Greek Cypriots reject out of hand and which has been rejected by the European Union, the United Nations, the U.S. and different nations.
Turkish Cypriot chief Ersin Tatar stated this week that he’s open to dialogue, however warned there’s “no flexibility or retreat” from the two-state proposal in addition to a everlasting Turkish troop presence on the island and navy intervention rights for Ankara — all non-starters for the Greek Cypriot aspect.
“You possibly can by no means impose on us a settlement saying that ‘that is what the EU says,’ burying your head within the sand,” Tatar was quoted as saying. “Our purple line is our sovereignty.”
Tatar stated he would increase in Thursday’s assembly the potential for the 2 sides working collectively on coping with potential earthquakes on the island.
Christodoulides informed The Related Press that he’s “totally conscious” of the obstacles, “however that doesn’t imply that we mustn’t do all the things attainable to interrupt the present impasse.”
The president-elect stated key to any peace deal could be the EU’s lively involvement in U.N.-led peace talks by way of the appointment by EU leaders of a “sturdy political character.”
He stated Turkey may very well be made extra amenable to a deal if issues that it has lengthy sought from the EU — together with upgrading its customs union with the bloc, visa-free journey for its residents and unfreezing its EU membership bid — might be placed on the negotiating desk.
A possible deal might expedite the event of sizable pure gasoline deposits off Cyprus’ southern shores amid Europe’s vitality crunch and take away a significant thorn within the rocky relationship between NATO allies Greece and Turkey.
“The EU has all of the instruments that would create a helpful state of affairs by which all sides could have nothing however to realize from a Cyprus settlement,” Christodoulides stated.