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Greek and Turkish Cypriots Remain Far Apart on Reunification

By Lisa Schlein April 29, 2021

U.N. efforts to restart talks on reunifying the divided island of Cyprus have hit an impasse as Greek and Turkish Cypriot leaders remain apart on the key issues.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres convened three days of informal meetings seeking a pathway to revive the dormant Cyprus reunification talks.

The Greek and Turkish Cypriot leaders as well as the foreign ministers of Greece, Turkey and Britain shared their views.

Despite great efforts, Guterres acknowledged not enough common ground was found to allow for the resumption of formal negotiations to resolve the Cyprus problem.

"As you can imagine, this was not an easy meeting. And we conducted extensive consultations in a succession of bilateral meetings and plenary meetings in order to try to reach common ground," he said.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkey invaded the Mediterranean island, following a Greek-backed military coup aimed at uniting Cyprus with Greece.

Three U.N.-mediated negotiations to reunite the island since 2004 have failed.

Guterres says the positions of the Turkish and Greek Cypriots remain far apart. He says the Turkish Cypriots oppose reviving past efforts to set up a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation in Cyprus.

Instead, he says they want Cyprus to have two separate, equal states cooperating with each other. The Greek Cypriots, he says, remain steadfast in their demand for a federation.

While these contrary positions pose obvious difficulties, Guterres says he is not giving up efforts to reconcile the two sides.

"My agenda is strictly to fight for the security and well-being of the Cypriots, of the Greek Cypriots and the Turkish Cypriots, that deserve to live in peace and prosperity together," he said.

The U.N. chief says he got the parties to agree to meet again in the near future.

In the meantime, he says, the U.N. will consult with the parties, in hopes of creating a better environment for the next meeting. That process, he says, is likely to take two to three months.

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