After an informal meeting, Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish-Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci said they’re ready for more serious talks about reunification at the opening of the United Nations General Assembly in New York in September.
The two met on April 9 in a rare session after talks broke down in July, 2017 at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana when Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Akinci said they would never remove a 35,000-strong standing army on the northern third occupied since an unlawful 1974 invasion and as they demanded the right to militarily intervene, further invade.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres presided over the Swiss debacle and then issued a report blaming nobody for anything and said the two sides should try again despite decades of failures that have sent a long line of diplomats packing after throwing up their hands.
Anastasiades and Akinci talked for more than three hours in the UN compound in the buffer zone which divides the capital, Nicosia, said Al Jazeera in a report and then put out the usual vague diplomatic press releases trying to show something happened.
The two leaders had a “sincere and constructive exchange of views”, UN spokesman Aleem Siddique said in a statement, adding that they would carry on discussions with UN envoy Jane Holl Lute to prepare the ground for “structured and results-oriented” negotiations leading to a peace deal “with a sense of urgency.”
That’s the type of language that’s been used for generations with no real progress being made and, showing a little of the frustration, Anastasiades veered from the common good line to say there were some serious obstacles without stating what they were.
The two sides meet privately, keeping Cypriots and Turkish-Cypriots in the dark about what their future could be, releasing press statements of either mutual congratulation for talking or refusing to reveal anything substantive.
“We have a good climate, we have a common basis on which talks can take place, but I must admit that disagreements remain on serious matters,” Anastasiades told reporters. An informal conference of guarantors of security on the island, Greece, the former Colonial ruler the United Kingdom – and Turkey – would take place first but Turkey has repeatedly said it will never give up its role nor remove the army, essentially dooming any talks resuming.
Only Turkey recognizes the occupied land it seized and refuses to recognize the legitimate government of Cyprus, a member of the European Union that Erdogan wants his country to join, an effort that’s faltered since it began in 2005.
The government is made up only of Greek-Cypriots since a constitutional breakdown in 1963 when a power-sharing administration with Turkish-Cypriots crumbled amid violence, the news site added in its feature on unity prospects.
But a new catalyst – energy – could either spur the bringing together of the island or ruin it and bring a conflict with Turkey having sent two drillships into Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ,) parts of which it doesn’t recognize.
Cyprus has licensed foreign companies to look for oil and gas there, including US energy giant ExxonMobil which has reported a major gas find but Anastasiades’ offer to share revenues with Turkish-Cypriots was rejected by Erdogan and Akinci who want their side to take part in the licensing process as well.
Numerous attempts over the years at reaching a deal on reunifying the island as a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation have failed with no indication anything is going to change.