A top Turkish negotiator said she believes a deal to reunify the island with Cypriots could be reached by next May although talks are lagging.
Cyprus has been divided since an unlawful 1973 Turkish invasion and a third of the island is still occupied. Talks have failed for decades to make any progress.
Despite that, the on-again, off-again talks that have included Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and his Turkish counterpart Mustafa Akinci have yielded hope for a resolution finally.
“We are cautiously optimistic. We think we are closer than we have ever been before,” the self-styled Turkish Cypriot Foreign Minister Emine Colak told Reuters in an interview.
“We don’t think the Cyprus problem has got easy – it hasn’t but we think we have a window of opportunity. It is possible and it is desirable to get to at least the major part of the negotiations and the agreed text by May 2016.”
That was the same time range seen by Anastasiades and Akinci and Colak said she believed it would be “a good thing” to postpone Greek Cypriot elections planned for May 2016 to ease the negotiating process.
The breakaway state in the island’s north is recognized only by Turkey.
Asked if there could be a referendum on unification in early 2016, Colak said: “I wouldn’t think early 2016 but maybe within 2016 – I don’t see any reason why not.” Previous plans that were rejected called for a Turk to serve as the island’s President every other term.