Politics, World, Europe

UN, EU join international Cyprus summit

Turkish, Greek, UK foreign ministers also join senior international figures for last stage of Cyprus talks

12.01.2017
UN, EU join international Cyprus summit

By Fatih Erel 

GENEVA

An international conference on the possible reunification of Cyprus began on Thursday with the participation of Turkish and Greek Cypriot leaders and three guarantor countries -- Turkey, Greece and the U.K.

Observers from the UN plus EU representatives joined participants in Geneva. A morning session is expected to run until 1 p.m. local time (1100GMT). Talks will reconvene at 6 p.m. (1600GMT). 

Talks teams headed by Turkish Cypriot President Mustafa Akinci and Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades will negotiate. The two Cypriot leaders will deliver a statement to the media alongside UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres mid-afternoon. 

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, U.K. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias are attending, along with EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.

Thursday’s high-level meetings follow comments from the UN’s envoy on Cyprus, Espen Barth Eide, who described the preceding three days of talks by the two Cypriot sides as being “on track”.

Turkish and Greek Cypriots exchanged maps on proposed territorial boundaries on Wednesday; the documents have been sealed in a United Nations vault.

In remarks made before his departure for Geneva, Akinci told reporters the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus would continue on its own way if a solution was not reached. 

Speaking in Geneva, Turkey's Cavusoglu said: "The new cooperation in Cyprus should be built on the basis of two constituent states under a common status of bi-zonality, bi-community and political equality."

He also said that as European Law should for the "basic elements of the agreement", Turkey's membership of the EU should be a "priority".

Cavusoglu also said the status of Turkish nationals on the island was important.

He also said the "political equality, legitimate rights and security of the Turkish Cypriots" remained a key foreign policy objective for Ankara.

Speaking earlier, British Foreign Secretary Johnson said: "The talks in Geneva on the Cyprus settlement offer both sides a unique opportunity to find a solution. 

"The UK fully supports the settlement process and is ready and willing to help in any way it can." 

Reunification talks resumed in May 2015; both sides have repeatedly expressed optimism that a solution could be found.

Once a final agreement is reached, it would be put to both Cypriot communities in a referendum.

Akinci has said a reunification vote could be held in mid-2017 pending agreement in Geneva.

*Sorwar Alam contributed to this report from Ankara.

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