UN-led Cyprus talks founder in Geneva

The informal talks on Cyprus were attended in Geneva by: (l-r) Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar, Britain's Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, and Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias. Photo taken on April 29, 2021. Keystone / Stavros Ioannides / Pio / Handou

Informal talks between Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot representatives in Geneva failed to make headway on the future of the island of Cyprus, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Thursday.

This content was published on April 30, 2021 - 11:13

Guterres travelled from New York to Geneva to oversee three days of informal talks from April 27-29. But he said they had not managed to overcome the differences between the Greek and Turkish Cypriot positions.

“The truth is that at the end of our efforts, we have not yet found enough common ground to allow for the resumption of formal negotiations,” Guterres told reporters in Geneva on Thursday.

"But I do not give up," he added. "My agenda is strictly to fight for the security and well-being of the Cypriots—of the Greek Cypriots and the Turkish Cypriots—that deserve to live in peace and prosperity together."

Divided island

The strategically located island in the eastern Mediterranean, a former British colony, was split after a Turkish invasion in 1974 triggered by a brief Greek-inspired coup. The seeds of division had been sown earlier, when a power-sharing administration of Greek and Turkish Cypriots crumbled amid violence, just three years after independence from Britain in 1960.

The UN is trying to broker a deal for the eastern Mediterranean island, nearly six decades since it first deployed peacekeepers. A UN-controlled buffer zone separates the Turkish-occupied zone from areas controlled by EU member the Republic of Cyprus.

Diplomats had been trying to break the deadlock in talks between Greek and Turkish Cypriots, which collapsed in 2017.

The latest Geneva talks were attended by the foreign ministers of Britain, Turkey and Greece, who are guarantor powers for Cyprus and still maintain intervention rights to restore any constitutional breakdown.

Guterres told reporters that the two sides, the three guarantors and the UN would meet again within two to three months, with the aim to pave the way for formal negotiations.

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