5+1 Cyprus talks start at UN in Geneva: UN chief convenes informal talks with ‘realistic’ frame to negotiate a lasting settlement in Cyprus
By Peter Kenny in Geneva
An informal meeting on Cyprus began in Geneva Tuesday with the UN chief seeking “common ground” between the parties for the resumption of negotiations on a lasting solution to the decades-old dispute.
Alessandra Vellucci, UN Information Service (UNIS) spokeswoman in Geneva, said “the informal 5+1 Meeting on Cyprus in Geneva has now officially started” with a bilateral meeting between UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and President of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) Ersin Tatar.
She said those talks would be followed later with a meeting between Guterres and Nicos Anastasiades, leader of the Greek Cypriot administration, at Geneva’s Intercontinental Hotel not far from the Palais des Nations, the UN’s European headquarters.
The UN secretary-general was then to host a reception for
the heads of delegations in the early evening with a strong police presence around the hotel.
The Turkish delegation is headed by Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.
The plenary session of the talks is to start on Wednesday. Ahead of the talks, Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for Guterres, said: “The secretary-general is realistic. This is an issue that he knows well. He has participated in discussions before. So, he is realistic.”
He said Guterres decided to call this “informal meeting” following consultations over the past several months.
“As we have repeatedly said, the purpose of this informal meeting will be to determine whether a common ground exists for the parties to negotiate a lasting solution to the Cyprus issue within a foreseeable horizon,” said the UN spokesman.
The meeting will be held from April 27-29 with guarantor countries Turkey, Greece, and the UK.
Dujarric said representing the Greek Cypriot side is Anastasiades, the Turkish Cypriot side Tatar, Turkey’s Cavusoglu, Greece’s Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias, UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, and Guterres leading the delegation.
Speaking on the 5+1 format, Dujarric said it “is basically the leaders of the two communities, plus Greece, Turkey, and the UK. That format is really based on historical precedent.”
Cyprus has been mired in a decades-long struggle between the Greek and Turkish Cypriots, despite a series of diplomatic efforts by the UN to achieve a comprehensive settlement.
The island has been divided since 1964 when ethnic attacks forced Turkish Cypriots to withdraw into enclaves for their safety. In 1974, a Greek Cypriot coup aiming at Greece’s annexation led to Turkey’s military intervention as a guarantor power. The TRNC was founded in 1983.
The Greek Cypriot administration, backed by Greece, became a member of the EU in 2004, although most Greek Cypriots rejected a UN settlement plan in a referendum that year, which had envisaged a reunited Cyprus joining the EU.