UN to host Cyprus unification talks on Friday but prospects remain dim

UN to host Cyprus unification talks on Friday but prospects remain dim

The leaders of Greek and Turkish Cyprus will meet today for a bout of UN-led talks to discuss the potential

Photo: Nail Hall/Reuters

The leaders of Greek and Turkish Cyprus will meet today for a bout of UN-led talks to discuss the potential reunification of the Mediterranean island.

The island has been divided since Turkey invaded in 1974. Today, only Ankara recognises Northern Cyprus as a legitimate state. Since its declaration of independence in 1983, Northern Cyprus has forced out many Greek Cypriots, reciprocated by Greek Cyprus pressuring ethnic Turks to leave—a root cause for mutual resentment.

The last UN-brokered peace talks collapsed in July 2017, which brought about distrust amongst Turkish Cypriots towards Cyprus’ Greek president, Nicos Anastasiades, in finding a solution. Recent tensions over gas exploration off the Cypriot coast have fuelled finger-pointing from both sides for the lack of meaningful progress.

For Greece, a peace settlement would have to involve the sovereignty of all of Cyprus in addition to the withdrawal of Turkish troops, a deal that Turkey is unlikely to agree to due to security concerns. Turkish Cyprus requires Turkey’s cooperation in these negotiations, given its heavy dependence on Ankara, which would demand the right to maintain its ability to exploit natural resources in the region. It is therefore unlikely that these talks will bring about concrete proposals for reunification, even though both sides have expressed interest in finding a solution.

Wake up smarter with an assessment of the stories that will make headlines in the next 24 hours. Download The Daily Brief.