UN chief opens Cyprus meeting in Geneva
GENEVA. — New UN chief Antonio Guterres opened a crunch conference yesterday aimed at ending decades of division in Cyprus, billed as the “very last chance” to solve one of the world’s longest-running political crises.
Guterres was undertaking his first foreign trip as UN chief in a bid to achieve a breakthrough at the Geneva summit that also involves rival Cypriot sides as well as Greece, Turkey and former colonial power Britain.
The eastern Mediterranean island has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded in response to an Athens-inspired coup seeking union with Greece. Yesterday’s multi-party talks follow three days of negotiation between rival Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot leaders aimed at forging a united, twozone federation.
The intra-Cypriot talks have focused on thorny domestic issues such as territory and what a future, unified government might look like.
UN Cyprus envoy Espen Barth Eide has called this week “the moment of truth” and insisted that a deal to solve the long-standing division was within reach. In a crucial step, Greek Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci late Wednesday exchanged maps detailing their visions of how internal boundaries should be redrawn.
Turkish Cypriot leaders have agreed in principle to return some of the land they have controlled since the failed 1974 coup.