Cyprus peace talks break, to reconvene in Geneva

Menelaos Hadjicostis
Associated Press

Nicosia, Cyprus — Intensive talks at a Swiss resort on how much land Greek and Turkish Cypriots will administratively control under a deal reunifying ethnically divided Cyprus have broken off and will reconvene in Geneva on Nov. 20, officials said Friday.

Cyprus government spokesman Nicos Christodoulides said important progress has been made narrowing differences on how much territory will make up Greek and Turkish Cypriot zones in an envisioned federation.

Still, important details remain unresolved and the United Nations-backed negotiations will continue in Geneva for three or four days.

“There has been significant progress which allows us to be optimistic,” Christodoulides told reporters. He said the goal for a deal to be reached by the end of the year remains.

Greek Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and Mustafa Akinci, the leader of the breakaway Turkish Cypriots, have spent the last five days at the Swiss resort of Mont Pelerin trying to trash out an agreement on territory. The talks were designed as a precursor to a final summit that will also include Greece, Turkey and the island’s former colonial ruler Britain, to sort out the pivotal issue of security.

A Turkish invasion in 1974 following a coup aimed at uniting Cyprus with Greece split the island into a breakaway Turkish Cypriot north and an internationally recognized Greek Cypriot south. Only Turkey recognizes a Turkish Cypriot declaration of independence and maintains more than 35,000 troops in the north.

Christodoulides said both leaders agreed on the nine-day pause after Anastasiades requested it.

Territory is crucial to any Cyprus accord for both sides. The majority Greek Cypriots have said territorial adjustments must provide for at least 100,000 people to reclaim lost homes and property, boosting support for and reducing the cost of an accord.

Turkish Cypriots want the least amount of people being displaced from homes they now live in under any arrangement.

Greek Cypriot negotiators in Mont Pelerin sought to outline on maps how much territory would comprise each federal zone before agreeing to a final summit on security. Turkish Cypriots wanted a security summit date before agreeing on maps.

A final summit would focus on who would provide security for a federal Cyprus, and how. Turkish Cypriots insist on Turkey being able to militarily intervene on their behalf — something Greek Cypriots reject.

Christodoulides said heading into a security summit without agreement on territory could jeopardize the entire peace process.