Development Politics

UN chief to convene Cyprus talks in Geneva next week

UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres

UN chief to convene Cyprus talks in Geneva next week. UN head, Antonio Guterres to attend 3-day informal talks set for April 27-29

The United Nations Secretary-General is to convene a new round of talks on the Cyprus issue in Geneva next week, the spokeswoman for the UN Information Service (UNIS) said Tuesday.

Alessandra Vellucci said the talks are expected to be held from Tuesday to Thursday next week, and UN head Antonio Guterres is expected to be there with both Cypriot parties and the guarantor countries – Turkey, Greece, and the UK.

“We will soon announce (Guterres’s) travel details,” she said of the informal talks. “While we know that the talks are expected to start next week, we don’t yet have all the information about the COVID-related assessment for these talks,” said the UNIS spokeswoman.

She said this is important due to the health limitations of people who can get into the talk’s room, the necessity of creating bubbles, and the need to screen people. Last week, Turkey’s foreign minister reaffirmed that the upcoming Geneva talks on the Cyprus issue would be informal.

“The meeting in Geneva will be informal. There will be no new negotiations to be held there,” Mevlut Cavusoglu had said at a joint news conference with Ersin Tatar, president of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), following their talks in Lefkosa.

“We believe that we will no longer waste time on the federal solution and that new ideas and new vision should be discussed,” he said. The Geneva talks will seek a common ground for negotiations, Cavusoglu said, adding:

“We definitely and certainly will not continue where we left off at Crans-Montana [talks]. This is out of the question.”

The 2017 Crans-Montana conference in Switzerland held with the participation of the guarantor countries but failed after the Greek Cypriot side left the table.

On the EU position in the Cyprus dispute, Cavusoglu said that the bloc completely ignores the TRNC and the Turkish Cypriot people on issues such as income sharing and that it supports the Greek side “even if it is 100% wrong.”

He pointed out that if the EU wants to be an “honest mediator,” it should act in an objective, balanced way to achieve a permanent solution to problems.

On Twitter, the Turkish minister also said: “A federal solution has been negotiated for 53 years without any result. The Turkish Cypriot side promotes the two-state solution and cooperation based on sovereign equality. Turkey will always continue to support TRNC.”

The Cyprus issue

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 Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (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 European Union.

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Byron Adonis Mutingwende