Cyprus re­mains in spot­light

UK PM heads to Ankara af­ter Wash­ing­ton for talks on ef­fort to re­unify is­land, but Athens is con­cerned

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

The is­sues of se­cu­rity, in­clud­ing the pres­ence of Turk­ish troops, which form the big­gest ob­sta­cles to the re­uni­fi­ca­tion of eth­ni­cally di­vided Cyprus, are be­ing seen “through new eyes,” ac­cord­ing to United Na­tions Spe­cial En­voy Espen Barth Eide, who in­sisted there is an op­por­tu­nity for a so­lu­tion but that it won’t be around in­def­i­nitely.

The UN en­voy told re­porters af­ter brief­ing the UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil be­hind closed doors Mon­day that all sides in­volved – in­clud­ing guar­an­tor pow­ers Greece, Tur­key and Bri­tain – are look­ing at new ideas to break the dead­lock, as Greek Cypri­ots want Turk­ish troops out and Turk­ish Cypri­ots want them to re­main.

How­ever, Athens is said to be feel­ing some­what jit­tery at the prospect of Ankara and Lon­don forg­ing closer ties, which, it fears, could come at the ex­pense of Greek po­si­tions on Cyprus with re­gard to post-set­tle­ment se­cu­rity ar­range­ments. Re­ports of a mini-clash be­tween Greek For­eign Min­is­ter Nikos Kotzias and his Bri­tish coun­ter­part Boris John­son at the in­ter­na­tional con­fer­ence in Geneva about Cyprus ear­lier this month have only fu­eled such con­cerns.

Mean­while, Bri­tish Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May is to fly to Ankara on Fri­day, af­ter her meet­ing with US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump in Wash­ing­ton, for talks with Turk­ish Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan.

Greece may have not ut­tered its con­cerns over the strength­en­ing of ties be­tween Bri­tain and Tur­key, but it is re­port­edly mon­i­tor­ing what seems to be a re­vival of a strate­gic part­ner­ship.

Ac­cord­ing to diplo­mats, there are three fac­tors at play that could in­flu­ence ties be­tween Lon­don and Ankara. Firstly, with Brexit on the hori­zon, Bri­tain, like Tur­key, will have a mil­i­tary pres­ence on the is­land with­out be­ing an EU mem­ber. Se­condly, both coun­tries will be non-EU mem­bers of NATO. Given that both have armies rank­ing among the al­liance’s largest, their co­or­di­na­tion is ex­pected to be en­hanced. Fi­nally, Lon­don could model its fi­nan­cial relations on the one al­ready in place be­tween Brussels and Ankara.

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