Friday 22 September 2017

Cyprus peace talks resume in Swiss Alpine resort

Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci, right, smiles next to UN envoy Espen Barth Eide, in Crans-Montana (Jean-Christophe Bott/Keystone via AP)
Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci, right, smiles next to UN envoy Espen Barth Eide, in Crans-Montana (Jean-Christophe Bott/Keystone via AP)

Talks aimed at reunifying the Mediterranean island of Cyprus have resumed, with crucial discussions over future security arrangements set to top the agenda.

High-level envoys to a new round of talks aimed at reunifying the country's Greek and Turkish communities after 43 years arrived for the UN-sponsored discussions in the Swiss Alps.

First up will be discussions on issues such as territory and governance, before the focus turns to the thorny security discussions on Wednesday evening.

One big disagreement between the two sides is on the future of the 35,000 Turkish troops on the island.

In the highest level meeting for six months, the foreign ministers of Turkey and Greece have joined Greek Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci for the talks in the resort of Crans-Montana.

Arriving at the meeting, Mr Anastasiades said "there is always hope".

Britain, a former colonial power in Cyprus, and the European Union are also represented at the talks that are aimed at securing a breakthrough to reunify the island that was divided along ethnic lines in 1974 when Turkish troops invaded after supporters of union with Greece led a failed coup.

About a dozen Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot activists from the peace group #UniteCyprusNow waved flags and held placards reading "peace" and "unite Cyprus now" outside the hall where the peace talks are taking place.

"We want the leaders to know that the people are watching and they'll be held accountable for their actions," activist Andromachi Sophocleous said by phone from Crans-Montana.

AP

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