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Politics

A Delicate Balance: Cyprus Dilemma Seen UN Sidelines Soft Talks

September 19, 2023

NICOSIA – The Turkish-Cypriot side has rejected reunification and any European Union involvement but both are seen on the table for sideline talks at the United Nations General Assembly, pushed by Cypriot President Nicos Christodoulides.

He will meet with European Council chief Charles Michel, who represents the 27 Heads of State for the bloc about the decades-old unsolved problem of reunifying the island split by unlawful 1974 Turkish invasions.

That saw the northern third seized and still occupied by Turkish-Cypriots who declared a republic unrecognized by any other country in the world other than Turkey and in 2024 will see them mark 50 years of isolation.

The Greek-Cypriot legitimate government is a member of the EU that Turkey has fruitlessly been trying to join since 2005, prospects worsening under the authoritarian rule of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

While wanting to accelerate those hopes he still refuses to recognize the Greek-Cypriot government and bars its ships and planes and has been able to keep the issue of division out of diplomatic talks with Greece.

Turkey, Greece and the former Colonial ruler the United Kingdom, which still keeps bases on the island, are also guarantors of security there along with a UN peacekeeping force.

Christodoulides and Michel are expected to discuss how the EU can play a role in getting the island back together again but Turkish-Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar has rejected that and doesn’t want reunification.

Tatar, who follows the lead of Erdogan, instead has demanded the UN recognize the rogue state – which has been ignored – and will be at the assembly on the sidelines as it’s not a member.

The issue is also expected to be discussed by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in separate meetings with Erdogan and Tatar. Guterres was the latest UN leader to fail to broker a solution when talks collapsed in July, 2017 at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana.

Those fell apart when then Turkish-Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci and Erdogan said a 35,000-strong army on the occupied side would never leave and as they demanded the right to invade again.

Cypriot media it’s unclear whether Guterres will hold a separate joint meeting with Christodoulides, who became President in February this year, and Tatar who said he wants only two separate states and permanent partition.

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