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Sunday 23 July 2017

Cyprus peace process 'has not fallen apart' despite talks cancellation

Mr Eide, third from the left, stands with Greek and Turkish Cypriots as they hold banners during a demonstration at the Ledras main crossing point inside the UN buffer zone dividing the Greek and Turkish Cypriot zones (AP)
Mr Eide, third from the left, stands with Greek and Turkish Cypriots as they hold banners during a demonstration at the Ledras main crossing point inside the UN buffer zone dividing the Greek and Turkish Cypriot zones (AP)

The UN has insisted the Cyprus peace process has not collapsed despite an envoy cancelling talks with rival leaders after they failed to find "common ground" on a summit aimed at securing reunification.

UN envoy Espen Barth Eide had been meeting separately with the leaders of the ethnically-divided island over the past nine days, but said there is no reason to continue since there is "no prospect" for agreement on the summit's details.

He said: "Unfortunately, despite serious efforts to overcome their differences regarding the modalities for meeting in Geneva, the leaders were unable to find common ground.

"Without a prospect for common ground, there is no basis for continuing this shuttle diplomacy."

Mr Eide said he would consult with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on the next steps.

The peace process has not fallen apart, according to Aleem Siddique, a spokesman for the UN in Cyprus.

He said it is now up to the island's Greek Cypriot president Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci to decide on the way forward.

Two years of negotiations have made significant progress on how to share power in an envisioned federation, but they have stumbled on pivotal issues of post-reunification security arrangements and how much territory each side would administer.

The island was split in 1974 when Turkey invaded following a coup by supporters of union with Greece.

The current impasse concerns the 35,000 troops that Turkey keeps in the breakaway Turkish Cypriot north.

Greek Cypriots want all Turkish troops gone as part of any deal and propose an international police force to oversee security.

The minority Turkish Cypriots said the troops are their only security guarantee. Turkish officials have said there can be no peace deal without a Turkish troop presence.

Mr Anastasiades has proposed resolving the security issue first at a final summit before settling remaining disagreements, arguing this would ensure a successful outcome.

Mr Akinci insists on negotiating all outstanding issues together as part of a give-and-take process.

Press Association

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