Anastasiades, Akinci Back to Unity Talks Drawing Board Again

Turkish-Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci (L) with Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades

NICOSIA – Cyprus’ on-again, off-again negotiations trying to reunify the island will pick up on Oct. 4 when President Nicos Anastasiades resumes talks with Turkish-Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci.

A May deadline to resolve the 42-year-old problem created by Turkey’s unlawful invasion in 1974 passed and has been pushed back to the end of the year as the two hope to find an answer before United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who has done almost nothing to help the process, sees his term expire.

Anastasiades, pushing back his optimism, said recently that unless Turkey removes a 30,000-strong standing army in the northern third of the island it unlawfully occupies that there would be no deal.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who can override whatever Akinci brings to the table, won’t recognize Cyprus, still bars its ships and planes, sends in warships and research vessels to look for energy and said he won’t remove the army.

So far, 17 months of infrequent talks between Anastasiades and Akinci have yielded only minor concessions but diplomats, including UN envoy Espen Barth Eide, keep saying a solution is at hand only to keep pushing back their assessments.

For all that, Anastasiades said he remained confident that the challenges could be overcome somehow without explaining himself.

Anastasiades said the most difficult obstacles concern territory and property seized by Turks, the same ones that have been the problem for decades without an inch of progress.

Those, he said, along with security and guarantees, “which will weigh significantly as to whether a solution would be feasible,” the Cyprus Mail reported.

“Nonetheless, I remain confident that the above-mentioned challenges can be tackled during the intensified negotiations to take place in the coming months,” he said.

“Our aim is to avoid failures of the past and to present to the people a clear and well-prepared settlement agreement, with no constructive or other ambiguities and deficiencies,” Anastasiades added.

He said it’s incumbent on Turkey to do more, echoing the same words that have been heard for years with little advancement.

“There is no solution that can be reached without Turkey’s input. We do therefore expect Turkey, which is responsible for the illegal stationing of more than 40,000 occupation troops in Cyprus, to take concrete steps towards this end, taking into account not only the benefit of the people of Cyprus, but also the positive impact a settlement will have to regional stability and cooperation.”