Territory row looms over Cyprus talks
RIVAL Cypriot leaders will broach a multi-billion-euro territory dispute this week in Switzerland as part of UN-backed peace talks aimed at solving one of the world’s longestrunning political crises.
Negotiations are due to discuss the previously intractable issue of territorial adjustments on the Mediterranean resort island – a main bone of contention during four decades of discord between its Greek- and Turkish-speaking communities.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops occupied its northern third in response to an Athens-inspired coup seeking union with Greece.
UN-brokered talks between Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades and his Turkish Cypriot counterpart Mustafa Akinci began 17 months ago and have been billed as the island’s last chance for an enduring peace deal.
Mr Anastasiades this week urged both sides to “seize the opportunity not only to eliminate or reduce existing differences ... but to achieve such progress on territory which allows us to lead to a final settlement”.
But talks have been beset by problems – including disputes over property and compensation – and Turkish Cypriot foreign minister Tahsin Ertugruloglu said the peace process was “obviously a failure”.
Analysts say that any deal hinges on the issue of territory swaps, which could see a number of Turkish Cypriots displaced.
The two leaders will attempt to agree on the internal boundary between two future constituent states, allowing for the return of some areas in Turkish-held northern Cyprus to the Greek Cypriots.
“Territory is naturally connected to property issues and security because it affects the daily life of people living near the borders,” Turkish Cypriot analyst Mete Hatay said.
Without an agreement on territory there can be no decision on how many refugees can return to their former homes or how the plans for restoration, exchange or huge compensation of property will work. –
Nicos Anastasiades wants both sides to seize the opportunity.