In brief

UN Secretary-General seeks new chance for Cyprus peace negotiations

Guterres to “explore” chances for “informal meeting” with Cypriot leaders, Greece, Turkey, UK

From left to right: Anastasiades, Guterres and Akinci, in this week's meeting.
From left to right: Anastasiades, Guterres and Akinci, in this week's meeting. Author: United Nations
The Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres, met this week with the President of Cyprus, Nicos Anastasiades, and the President of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, Mustafa Akinci, to “take stock of efforts” made so far in the search for a peace agreement on the island.

At the end of the meeting, Guterres explained that he will “explore” the possibility of bringing together the two Cypriot leaders plus Greece, Turkey and the United Kingdom in an “informal meeting”.

The meeting between Guterres, Anastasiades and Akinci was the first the three leaders have held since negotiations were suspended in July 2017.

An agreement between the Cypriot presidency —controlled by the Greek Cypriots— and Turkish Cypriot presidency exists since 2008 to reunify the island under a “bizonal and bicommunal” federation.

The future of the presence of foreign troops —mainly Turkish, but also Greek— on the island is one of the aspects that have not been solved in previous rounds of negotiations. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan insists that Turkey will maintain its troops —currently in the number of between 30,000 and 40,000— as a “guarantee” of the rights of the Turkish Cypriot population.

To this background, a dispute over the exploitation of gas deposits in Cypriot waters must also be added.

Turkey, Greece and the United Kingdom are the three states recognised by a 1960 treaty as “guarantors” of the independence and unity of Cyprus.

Turkey quoted that treaty to justify its invasion of the north of the island in 1974, after which an autonomous Turkish Cypriot administration was established.

In 1983, that administration proclaimed independence under the name of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. Turkey is the only country that has recognised it.