Cyprus’ Rival Leaders Eye New Talks

UN's Green Line in Cyprus

NICOSIA –  Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades, who’s been distracted by an economic and bank crisis that began the moment he took office in March, is hoping to kick start long delayed talks with his Turkish rival Dervis Eroglu on re-unifying the island divided since an unlawful 1974 invasion by Turkey, which still keeps a small standing army on the northern third it continues to occupy in defiance of United Nations resolutions.

The two are due to meet next week in an informal, face-to-face attempt to clear up obstacles blocking the resumption of talks aiming to reunify the ethnically split island.

A statement said Anastasiades and Eroglu, a hardliner whose refusal to make any concessions led previous Cypriot President Demetris Christofias not to run again, have agreed to meet Nov. 25 in yet another in a long series of failed attempts for years to finalize a roadmap for the peace talks.

Cyprus was divided in 1974 when Turkey invaded after a coup by supporters of union with Greece. The meeting will take place at a restaurant in the UN-controlled buffer zone splitting the island.

Months of preliminary talks on a definition of how Cyprus will be reunified before formal peace negotiations get underway have so far proved fruitless and the UN’s envoy, former Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer, has gotten nowhere in his attempts to get the two sides to talk seriously.