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UN-Sponsored Cyprus Talks Begin in Geneva on Tuesday

Cyprus talks
Cyprus has remained divided since the Turkish invasion of 1974

Four years after their last peace talks failed, the leaders of Cyprus and the Turkish Cypriots will meet in Geneva this week to explore elusive common ground on the divided Mediterranean island.

President Nicos Anastasiades said that the main goal of the new United Nations effort is tofind common ground to continue the dialogue on the Cyprus issue.

Speaking to the Cypriot daily Philelepheros, Anastasiades vowed to “to keep the train on the rails of the bi-zonal bi-communal federation.”

He stressed that “in Geneva, the intentions of each of the participants will be tested before the UN Secretary General,” but admitted that Turkish public statements “do not allow us to maintain high expectations.”

“We go to Geneva … steadfastly committed to resuming negotiations for reunifying Cyprus in a bizonal, bicommunal federation,” in line with UN resolutions, international and European Union law, said Nikos Christodoulides, the Foreign Minister of the Republic of Cyprus.

Last week Cyprus and Greece agreed to coordinate their efforts on the upcoming five-party talks.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis noted that the context of the discussions that will take place in Geneva is absolutely clear as “it is based on all previous decisions of the (United Nation’s) Security Council.”

“The solution can be found only in the context of a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation, a single sovereignty, a single citizenship, a single international representation and, of course, with the withdrawal of the occupying armies, but also the elimination of the anachronistic framework of guarantees,” Mitsotakis underlined.

“No common ground” for Cyprus talks

However, Tahsin Ertugruloglu, his counterpart in the internationally unrecognized so-called Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), held an opposing view.

“There is no common ground … The issue is ‘one island, two states’,” he said.

Turkey has also been invited to Geneva, along with Greece and Britain, the two other guarantors of the island’s 1960 independence from London.

Meanwhile, the leader of the Turkish Cypriots, Ersin Tatar, on Sunday urged Britain to support a two-state solution.

In an interview with the U.K.’s Sunday Express, Tatar said that Britain’s exit from the European Union allowed the island nation to play a neutral guarantor role.

Tatar stated that they do not want to squander any more time as the conflict on the Eastern Mediterranean island has been ongoing since the early 1960s when ethnic clashes ultimately led to Turkey’s military intervention and subsequently the foundation of the TRNC in 1983. “All these years we have been wasting valuable time,” he said.

He also noted that a two-state solution was the only viable option as the two sides of the island have been separated for so long that they have totally different outlooks, cultures and languages, and the conflicting histories of both means “there is no hope for a federal relationship in the future.”

Talks held in July 2017 in Crans-Montana in Switzerland on the basis of reunification under the roof of a federal state failed, hitting roadblocks on the withdrawal of tens of thousands of Turkish troops and Ankara’s status as a guarantor power.

On Saturday, Cypriots on both sides of the divide marched through the streets of the capital calling for a resolution of the issue, some holding placards calling for peace and reunification.

The routes stopped at semi-circles on either side at barbed wire thrown up decades ago when Turkey invaded the island.

“Cyprus belongs to its people,” demonstrators chanted, holding placards in Greek and Turkish.

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