Cyprus Conference Seen as Best Chance for Reunification of Island

By Lisa Schlein June 27, 2017

U.N. mediated talks on the reunification of the divided island of Cyprus are to resume Wednesday at the posh Alpine resort of Crans-Montana. Participants include Greek and Turkish Cypriot leaders, foreign ministers of the three guarantor states – Greece, Turkey and Britain – and senior officials from the European Union and European Commission.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded the island to counter an attempted coup to unite the island with Greece. In the years since, numerous efforts to reunite the island have all ended in failure.

Special Adviser of the Secretary-General on Cyprus, Espen Barth Eide, says participants hope this round of negotiations will be different and will achieve a comprehensive agreement that will bring the two sides together into a federal union.

He says he expects long days and hard work ahead. While there is no guarantee of success, the U.N. mediator maintains a positive outlook.

"My preference is to talk about this as the best chance, not to discuss about whether it is a last chance," he said. "But I think it is the best chance. It is a unique opportunity and it would be extremely sad if it was wasted. And, I think frankly that is recognized by all participants."

Eide says substantial progress has been made on issues dealing with territory, property and governance, power sharing and the economy. He calls the chapter on security and guarantees a major obstacle.

"All agreed that the chapter on security and guarantees is of vital importance to the two communities," he said. "Progress in this chapter is an essential element in reaching an overall agreement and in building trust between the two communities in relation to their future security."

Turkey has an estimated 40,000 troops stationed in the northern part of Cyprus. The Greek Cypriots want these troops removed. This is a point of contention with the Turkish Cypriots who see this Turkish troop presence as a protective umbrella.

Join the mailing list