UN Pushes Cyprus Reunification Again

UNITED NATIONS – Seeing hopes for the reunification of Cyprus, which has been divided since an unlawful 1974 invasion by Turkey, which still keeps troops in the occupied third of the island, sliding away as talks between the two sides have broken down, the UN Security Council urged them to agree on a way forward “as soon as possible.”

The council urged Greek Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu to focus on reaching agreement on core issues which include power-sharing, private property lost during the war, and military intervention rights for Turkey.

The council made the appeals in a resolution extending the mandate of the U.N. peacekeeping force in Cyprus until July 31, 2014, keeping troops there another six months. They’ve been there since 1964, ten years before the invasion.

A solution for Cyprus has evaded negotiators for almost four decades. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has several times predicted breakthroughs only to be proved wrong and his special envoy for Cyprus, Alexander Downer, recently said he’s giving up the quest to find an answer.

That came as Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades said the talks are dead because the Turkish Cypriots are intractable and have set non-negotiable demands without offering any concessions. Turkey blames the Cypriots for being intransigent, a pattern that has repeated itself for years, foiling any attempt to get the sides talking seriously.

The two sides haven’t even been able to agree on what the talking points should be, preventing the opening of more substantial negotiations over the thorny issues separating them.

The council urged Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu to focus on reaching agreement on core issues which include power-sharing, private property lost during the war, and military intervention rights for Turkey, the same issues that have gone nowhere for years and show no signs of doing so any time soon.

Turkey, which wants to join the European Union, will not admit ships or planes from Cyprus, which is a member, adding to to the dilemma.

The council also renewed the mandate of the UN peacekeeping force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) for a further six months. It has been in place to keep the two sides from renewing the conflict and there is a buffer zone in the capital of Nicosia separating them.

The resolution is almost exactly the same as the one voted on in July last year although this is the first time in two years that the Security Council has unanimously adopted. the resolution on UNFICYP,  comprising military and civilian personnel from various contributing countries, which began its mission in March 1964, after inter communal fighting broke out.

The mandate of the force is renewed almost automatically every six months by the council as a routine matter.