New talks regarding the divided island of Cyprus will be held in New York according to reports on Friday, which said that the United Nations will once again take part in the discussions.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Friday that the diplomatic parleys will be held sometime within the next two months.
The bitterly divided island nation, which was invaded by Turkish troops in the summer of 1974, has been the subject of repeated attempts at diplomatic negotiations over the decades. However, the last talks, held in 2017, ended on a sour note, with no agreement arrived at between any of the parties.
Alone among all the nations of the world, Ankara recognizes occupied Northern Cyprus as what it refers to as “the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus” (TRNC) as an independent state.
The internationally-acknowledged Greek Cypriot government to the south is not recognized by the Turkish state and the boundary has come into the news recently when Turkish President Erdogan took a tour of the no-mans-land of Varosha, claiming the area would soon be opened up to tourism once again.
All the guarantor powers will take part in New York talks
The area, part of the once-glittering resort city of Famagusta, had been left fenced-off for decades and neither side had dared to change that status until recently.
On Friday, Cavusoglu said that the guarantor powers of the island nation, including Turkey, Greece, and Great Britain, along with officials from the United Nations would would restart the talks between the two Cypriot sides in late February or early March of 2021.
The Foreign Minister added that the European Union would act as an observer during the New York talks.
He spoke to reporters after meeting with EU officials on Friday, complaining that up until now, the Union had “disregarded the rights of the Turkish side.”
“We conveyed to them that this trust needs to be re-established,” Cavusoglu said.
Greece-Turkey talks to begin in Ankara on Monday
There are already talks scheduled between Greece and Turkey on Monday, January 25, on the issue of maritime territory delineation. The new Cyprus talks at the UN will represent the second major set of diplomatic overtures regarding Greek and Turkish issues to take place in 2021.
The EU had discussed the imposition of sanctions on Turkey in the Autumn of 2020 after that country’s repeated incursions onto Greek and Cypriot territorial waters with its oil and gas exploration vessels and its many overflights — including dogfights — over Greek land.
In addition, the US has finally imposed sanctions on Turkish military officials over that country’s purchase of the Russian S-400 missile defense system in 2019 by way of CAATSA, an act of Congress that calls for economic measures to be taken against Turkey after it went against the wishes of NATO in implementing the system.
“Ushering in a new era”
Lately, however, there have been hints from Ankara that it would be amenable to talks with the EU and Greece about several issues, with Erdogan at one point saying to a group of EU ambassadors that “Talks with Greece can usher in a new era,” and that he was ready to “restore” what he claimed were Turkey’s relations with the EU.
This relationship, of course, has been an extremely rocky one of late, with the past year seeing an unending string of incursions onto Greek and Cypriot waters and airspace by Turkey as it searches for oil and gas and flexes its military muscles in the Mediterranean.
Erdogan said “We are ready to put our relations with the European Union back on track,” adding “We hope that our European friends will show the same will.”
“There is a window of opportunity for better dialogue with Greece right now, and we are planning to meet with a Greek foreign minister who is personally a good friend of mine, Nikos Dendias, in the coming weeks,” Cavusoglu said, according to the Anadolu Agency.
Athens warns about expansion of agenda
Greece is open to exploratory talks with Turkey under the right climate, but has no intention of accepting “an expansion of the agenda,” as Ankara wants.
Athens is concerned that Ankara will try to expand the agenda to include other issues, such as a renegotiation of the Treaty of Lausanne, which established the current borders between the two countries.
For Greece, exploratory talks should focus on an agreed settlement of the issue of the delimitation of the continental shelf.