Cypriot, Greek, Egyptian Foreign Ministers Push Cyprus Unity Talks

FILE - From left to right, UN Secretary-General's Special Adviser on Cyprus, Espen Barth Eide, Jonathan Allen, Director of the British National Security at the Foreign Office, Turkish Foreign Minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, Greek Cypriot leader, Nicos Anastasiades, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, Turkish Cypriot leader, Mustafa Akinci, Greek Foreign Minister, Nikos Kotzias, Frans Timmermans, First Vice-President of European Commission, and Elizabeth Spehar, UN Secretary-General's Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus, pose for a group picture during a new round of the conference on Cyprus under the auspices of the United Nations, in Crans-Montana, Switzerland, Friday, June 30, 2017. (Jean-Christophe Bott/Keystone via AP)

NEW YORK – Cyprus’ unity talks may be dead for now – at least Turkey says so – but the foreign ministers of Cyprus, Greece and Egypt want them resurrected but only if Turkey removes an army from the northern third it has occupied since an unlawful 1974 invasion.

During a meeting in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly they said an international peacekeeping force should be kept even though Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades said an international police force would be better.

He walked away from unity talks with Turkish-Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana in July after Turkey said its troops were there to stay and that it also wanted the right to militarily intervene further whenever it wanted.

Despite that, Anastasiades said he’s willing to pick up the talks again if Turkey withdraws those demands but Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that’s off the table and that the negotiations won’t resume for now.

The foreign ministers, Cyprus’ Ioannis Kasoulides, Greece’s Nikos Kotzias, and Egypt’s Sameh Shoukry said new talks should be done “without outdated security arrangements,” the Cyprus Mail reported.

In a Joint Communique issued after the meeting, they reiterated their “unwavering support to the efforts of the Government of the Republic of Cyprus for a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem that will reunify Cyprus in a viable, functional state in line with UNSC resolutions and international law, without outdated security arrangements which allow for the right of foreign military intervention and without foreign troops.”

Despite the failure of UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to broker a deal while he was in Switzerland at the talks, the ministers said the UN should stay involved in in the process although it’s been unable to find a resolution for 43 years.

“This trilateral consultation mechanism, which was launched in New York five years ago, reaffirms the mutual commitment of the three states to cooperate and work towards promoting security and stability in the Eastern Mediterranean region and facilitates cooperation in this respect,” the communique said.