GENEVA — When uncertain talks begin in Geneva, Switzerland on April 27 about how to solve the dilemma of a long-divided Cyprus, a key partner won't be there: a representative from the European Union.
While Cyprus is a member of the bloc and Turkey isn't – Turkey has occupied the northern third of the island since an unlawful 1974 invasion – the EU wasn't invited, after Turkey said it was opposed.
Turkey doesn't recognize Cyprus, bars its ships and planes and has been drilling for oil and gas in Cypriot waters in defiance of soft EU sanctions but said it didn't want anyone from the EU involved in talks.
The three-day meeting was arranged by United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who took part in the last round of reunification talks that collapsed in July, 2017 at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana.
That was over the refusal of Turkey and the Turkish-Cypriots, who make up less than 20 percent of the population to remove a 35,000-strong standing army and demands for the right of further military intervention.
Peter Stano, the European Commission’s lead spokesperson for foreign affairs, told reporters that, “We haven’t received any specific invitation” to the forthcoming talks.
“But it doesn’t change anything on the overall position of the EU. We remain ready to play an active role and support this process that both sides can focus on what is ahead of them and find finally a solution,” he said, according to Turkey's state-run Anadolu News Agency.
He said that the bloc remained committed to “a comprehensive settlement that means agreement by both sides which would be beneficial for Cyprus, the EU and for the wider security in the region,” repeating constant platitudes.
The biggest problem for the talks – if they talk – is that Turkish-Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar said that he would follow the line of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who doesn't want unification but two separate states.
That would bring recognition to the occupied territory no other country in the world apart from Turkey accepts as a state and scuttle any hope of bringing the island back together again.
Besides the UN, Cyprus, and the Turkish-Cypriots, other actors set to take part are the three guarantors of security, Greece, Turkey and the former Colonial ruler the United Kingdom, which still has military bases there.