UN en­voy sees ‘op­por­tu­nity’ for Cyprus re­uni­fi­ca­tion

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

NICOSIA:

A se­nior United Na­tions of­fi­cial says eth­ni­cally-split Cyprus has a “his­toric op­por­tu­nity” to re­unite in 2017 and a meet­ing in Geneva in early Jan­uary will be cru­cial for a peace deal that has eluded the is­land for decades.

Eigh­teen months of in­ten­sive talks be­tween the es­tranged Greek and Turk­ish Cypriot com­mu­ni­ties will cul­mi­nate at meet­ings in Geneva start­ing on Jan. 8. Espen Barth Eide, the UN Sec­re­tary Gen­eral’s Spe­cial Ad­viser on Cyprus, wrote in the Cyprus Weekly news­pa­per that Greek Cypriot leader Ni­cos Anas­tasi­ades and Turk­ish Cypriot leader Mustafa Ak­inci had demon­strated po­lit­i­cal will and lead­er­ship to end the con­flict. “They recog­nise that the sta­tus quo is un­ac­cept­able and un­sus­tain­able, and that the current talks of­fer the best op­por­tu­nity for a so­lu­tion,” said Eide, a former Nor­we­gian for­eign min­is­ter.

“The is­land stands on the cusp of reap­ing real po­lit­i­cal and eco­nomic ben­e­fits not only for Cypri­ots, but also be­yond the is­land across the wider re­gion,” he added. “The peace­ful re­uni­fi­ca­tion of the is­land next year could of­fer a his­toric op­por­tu­nity to fi­nally turn the page of his­tory in Cyprus.”

The east­ern Mediter­ranean is­land was split in a Turk­ish in­va­sion in 1974 prompted by a brief coup en­gi­neered by the mil­i­tary then rul­ing Greece. The Greek Cypri­ots now live south of a cease­fire line and Turk­ish Cypri­ots to the north of it.

From Jan. 8, the two sides will try to clear up over­hangs in is­sues re­lat­ing to econ­omy, prop­erty, gov­er­nance and EU is­sues. Ter­ri­to­rial trade-offs are ex­pected to be dis­cussed on Jan. 11.

Rep­re­sen­ta­tives of Bri­tain, Turkey and Greece - the guar­an­tor pow­ers of the former Bri­tish colony - will dis­cuss their roles at a con­fer­ence start­ing in Geneva the next day.

This guar­an­tor sta­tus, which per­mits in­ter­ven­tion to re­store a break­down of con­sti­tu­tional or­der, is a source of dis­cord be­tween the two Cypriot com­mu­ni­ties. Fear­ful of a re­peat of the 1974 in­va­sion, the Greek Cypriot side says no

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