Cyprus Unification Talks Start, Stop

After little more than a handshake, Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu stopped talking about reunification of the island after meeting on Nov. 25 because they couldn’t even agree on what to talk about.

The two sides couldn’t agree on a joint statement sketching out how the small country of roughly a million people would be brought together again, perpetuating a cycle of frustrating, on-again, off again talks.

Anastasiades said in a statement clearly saying what talks should aim for is essential in avoiding long, inconclusive talks such as those before that have gone nowhere for decades. Eroglu said a statement is unnecessary since all issues would be taken up in negotiations. Then they, too, broke off, just as have all their predecessor who failed to make any headway at all.

The talks were announced on Nov. 21 after Anastasiades, who has been dealing with an economic crisis, took the initiative to arrange a meeting without the presence of a UN official after both sides had recently met with UN Special Adviser Alexander Downer, who has failed to bring the two sides together.

Anastasiades had earlier insisted that a convincing “opening statement” was needed before any peace talks between the two sides could resume but relented as Eroglu, who played so tough in talks with Anastasiades’ predecessor Demetris Christofias that the Cypriot leader didn’t run for re-election, is showing no signs of softening.

Reunifying the island has avoided every leader, envoy or politician within the country and internationally and been one of the most frustrating unsolved dilemmas.

Cyprus has been 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 meeting between the two leaders will take place at a restaurant in the UN-controlled buffer zone splitting the island but there was no word on whether it would just a chat or serious negotiations.

Christofias, a Communist who said he could bring the island together again, walked away in disgust after he said the Turkish side wouldn’t budge on any concessions although he offered to let a Turk serve as President of the island every other term.

In 2004, Cypriots rejected the so-called Annan Plan which would have renamed the country the United Republic of Cyprus and been a federation of two separate states despite calling itself united.