Talks to reunify Cyprus fail to reach deal

CRANS MONTANA (Switzerland) • Efforts of the past 10 days to reach a deal to end more than four decades of division on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus ended without agreement, said United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

Despite the strong commitment and engagement of the Greek and Turkish Cypriot delegations, Greece, Turkey, Britain and the European Union as an observer, "I am deeply sorry to inform you that the conference on Cyprus was closed without an agreement being reached," Mr Guterres told reporters early yesterday in the Swiss resort of Crans Montana.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded the north to protect the Turkish Cypriot minority against a coup to unite the island with Greece. It went on to take more territory and thousands of people were displaced. An agreement to stitch Cyprus back together would draw a line under one of the world's biggest diplomatic challenges.

While the current round of talks failed, "it doesn't mean other initiatives can't be developed in order to address the Cyprus problem and the UN is always at the disposal of all parties willing to come an agreement", Mr Guterres said.

Greece and Britain are willing to give up their protector status and Greek Cypriots say that such powers would not be needed in a unified Cyprus that is a member of the EU. Turkey, which maintains tens of thousands of troops on the island, wants to keep its guarantor role to safeguard Turkish Cypriots, a minority of about one-fifth of the island's population whose self-proclaimed state is recognised only by Ankara.

"It wasn't possible to accept Turkish intervention rights on the whole island," Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias said in a twitter post. "The dream and plan for a solution to the Cyprus problem remains alive," he said.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 08, 2017, with the headline 'Talks to reunify Cyprus fail to reach deal'. Print Edition | Subscribe