Turkish Cypriot leader pours cold water on chances of peace talks restarting

15 May 2024, 20:34

Man in Nicosia
No chance of Cyprus peace talks. Picture: PA

Ersin Tatar said there was no common ground to be found with Greek Cypriots which could lead to negotiations resuming.

Chances of restarting formal talks to mend Cyprus’ decades-long ethnic division appeared dimmer on Wednesday as the leader of the breakaway Turkish Cypriots told a UN envoy that he saw no common ground with Greek Cypriots for a return to negotiations.

Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar said that he conveyed to the UN secretary general’s personal envoy, Maria Angela Holguin Cuellar, that talks cannot happen unless separate Turkish Cypriot sovereignty in the island’s northern third first gains the same international recognition as the Cyprus republic in the Greek Cypriot south.

Mr Tatar was quoted by Turkish Cypriot media as saying that a permanent Turkish military presence coupled with military intervention rights are prerequisites to any peace deal, despite Greek Cypriot attempts to “remove Turkey” from the settlement equation.

Mr Tatar also expressed irritation with Ms Holguin’s contacts with civil society groups that support an accord that would reunify Cyprus as a federation made up of Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot zones, in line with a UN-endorsed framework.

Cyprus Peace Talks
A UN guard post in Nicosia, the divided capital of Cyprus (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias, File)

The majority of Greek Cypriots reject a deal that would formalise a partition through a two-state deal; the permanent stationing of Turkish troops on the island; the right for Turkey to militarily intervene; as well a demand for a Turkish Cypriot veto on all federal-level government decisions.

The Turkish Cypriot leader’s remarks do not waver from a line that he has consistently kept since his 2022 rise to power.

But the fact that he remains unyielding despite four months of Holguin’s shuttle diplomacy does not bode well for a talks restart.

Ms Holguin was appointed at the start of the year to determine what the chances are of resuming formal talks seven years after the last major push for a deal collapsed amid much acrimony.

An agreement has defied numerous, UN-facilitated rounds of talks since 1974 when the island was cleaved along ethnic lines following a Turkish invasion preceded by a coup aimed at uniting the island with Greece.

Only Turkey recognises a Turkish Cypriot declaration of independence, and although Cyprus is a European Union member, only the south enjoys full membership benefits.

Ms Holguin has refrained from speaking at length about her contacts over the last few months, but she noted in an interview with the Kathimerini newspaper that it was up to the leaders to “listen to the people” and that she had been surprised at Mr Tatar’s rejection of her proposal for a three-way meeting with the Cypriot president, Nikos Christodoulides.

Ms Holguin will “soon” prepare a report for UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres about her findings over the last five months, according to UN deputy spokesman Farhan Haq.

Mr Christodoulides struck a more upbeat note on Wednesday, saying that efforts for a resumption of talks continue and that time should be given for diplomacy to work.

By Press Association

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