NICOSIA – Hopes to bring Cyprus together again 44 years after an unlawful invasion saw Turkey occupy the northern third depend on political rivals and others coming together, Foreign Minister, Nicos Christodoulides said with the last talks having collapsed.
Speaking at the annual memorial service for Archbishop Makarios, at the Kykkos monastery, he said: “We are going through another critical period as regards our national issue, possibly and without exaggeration, the most critical in the history of negotiations for a solution to the Cyprus problem,” the Cyprus Mail reported.
The last round of negotiations fell apart in July 2017 at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana when Turkish-Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said they would never remove an army in the occupied territory and wanted the right to militarily intervene again.
That was too much for Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades, who walked away from the bargaining table but who said, after easily winning re-election this year, that he was ready to talk again if Turkey would drop those demands and accept guidelines from the United Nations that have been rebuffed repeatedly.
Christodoulides said that now, with everything in limbo, that everyone puts Cyprus above any disagreements, because, “We need, today more than ever, cooperation and unity, self-restraint and pragmatism.
“This is dictated by the current critical circumstances that we hope would pave the way for meaningful talks on disputed issues, which have emerged through the latest negotiating process,” he said, although relatively little progress was made.
He said that Anastasiades had made it clear to the UN Secretary General’s envoy, American diplomat Jane Holl Lute, during a recent meeting that Cypriots were ready to talk again and pick up from where the negotiations ended.
“If the other side too has the same determination and corresponding sincerity,” he said, and if there was progress using the UN guidelines, that, “Yes, we can hope that we will soon have a positive ending to the long adventure Cyprus’ Hellenism has been enduring for almost half a century.”