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Turkey Torpedoes Cyprus Talks with Demand for “Two-State Solution”

UN Cyprus
credit: United Nations

Negotiations for solving the decades-long division of Cyprus ended in a failure on Thursday after Turkey demanded a “two-state solution” to the problem. 

United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Antonio Guterres made an uncharacteristically frank admission today that the informal talks held this week had failed to find common ground. At the outset of negotiations in Geneva Guterres had said that a date for more talks is being worked out and that he has not given up yet.

“The truth is that in the end of our efforts, we have not yet found enough common ground to allow for the resumption of formal negotiations in relation to the settlement of the Cyprus problem,” Guterres said. “But I do not give up.”

In the aftermath of the talks’ failure to reach any common ground, Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades put the blame flatly on Turkey’s two-state demand. 

“There is not one single chance of Turkey or the Turkish Cypriot side succeeding in this. This was something which was pointed out by the (United Nations) Secretary-General,” Anastasiades told reporters today in Geneva.

Turkey makes sweeping demands

Turkey endorses the stance of the government in northern Cyprus for a permanent division of the island, Turkish foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said from Geneva on Wednesday. 

“The solution on Cyprus should be based on international equal status and sovereign equality of two sides. Peace and stability for whole region can only be possible with cooperation of two states on the island,” Cavusoglu wrote on Twitter.

On Tuesday, representatives from Greece, Turkey, both governments on the island of Cyprus and the United Kingdom met for a second round of talks in Geneva, Switzerland. The officials met to try and bring stalled negotiations back to life after being effectively frozen for years now. 

UN chief Guterres met separately with Turkish and Greek Cypriot leaders on Monday. Then Guterres emphasised that he was looking for “common ground” with these talks, which did not pan out this week. 

Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar called his meeting with Guterres “productive,” and said his side conveyed its views on the dispute to the U.N. chief.

“We explained our position (on a two-state solution) in the given time frame in detail and with justification,” Tatar told reporters after Tuesday’s informal meeting. 

Tatar, who was elected in October 2020, has consistently pushed for a “two-state solution” and is a known hardliner with the support of Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Greece and Cyprus coordinate in Geneva

Guterres and Anastasiades also met separately at Geneva’s Intercontinental Hotel, not far from the UN’s European headquarters earlier this week.

After the meeting, it was announced that Anastasiades’ meeting with Guterres was “a very useful one” and that the President had the opportunity to highlight the need to resolve the Cyprus issue within the parameters set by the UNSG himself.

Anastasiades analyzed in detail the vision for the Cyprus issue, stressing that the day after the solution ought to contribute, not only to the prosperity of all Cypriots, but also to security and stability in the region.

The Cypriot President stressed the need for a functioning and effective state within the European Union. He also stressed the need for the solution to create conditions of security in the country in such a way that the perception of the security of one community did not pose a threat to the other community.

Greece’s foreign minister Nikos Dendias met ahead of the Geneva meeting with Anastasiades and his Cypriot counterpart Nikos Christodoulidis. He also reportedly met with Cavusoglu on Tuesday amid the informal talks. 

Cyprus has remained divided in two since 1974. Turkey invaded the northern half of the island five days after a military coup overthrew the Cypriot government with the support of the then-military junta in Greece. 

Ankara intervened on the pretext of protecting Turkish Cypriots after the coup, but the invasion has left Cyprus cut in half for close to half a century now. 

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