Cyprus’ rival leaders restart peace talks after hiatus

May 15, 2015, 5:30 AM
The painted image of a soldier marks a battle position in an abandoned home inside the United Natio...
The painted image of a soldier marks a battle position in an abandoned home inside the United Nations-controlled buffer zone they cuts across the Cypriot divided capital Nicosia on Thursday, May 14 2015. Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci, stalled talks aimed at reunifying ethnically divided Cyprus will resume Friday, May 15. Cyprus was split in 1974 when Turkey invaded after a coup by supporters of union with Greece. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)
(AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)

NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) — Cyprus’ rival leaders on Friday vowed to “work tirelessly” for a swift peace accord, a United Nations envoy said, after relaunching talks aimed at ending the small Mediterranean island nation’s four decades of division.

In an echo of previous attempts to forge a peace deal, Greek Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and the leader of the breakaway Turkish Cypriots, Mustafa Akinci, met at the capital’s derelict airport in search of a breakthrough to one of Europe’s most stubborn conflicts.

“In the prevailing climate of optimism, and encouraged by the momentum that is building across the island, the two leaders underscored their shared will to reach a comprehensive settlement,” U.N. envoy Espen Barth Eide said after the four-hour meeting.

Cyprus was split into an internationally recognized Greek Cypriot south and a breakaway Turkish Cypriot north in 1974 when Turkey invaded after a coup by supporters of union with Greece.

Last month’s victory of Akinci, a moderate, over a hard-line incumbent has offered a glimmer of hope that a peace deal may be in the offing.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon hailed the leaders’ commitment to push talks forward without delay, his spokesman said. The talks are the first between the two sides following an eight-month pause.

“The talks took place in a very positive climate and I believe that working in similar fashion, we can hope for progress,” Anastasiades said after the meeting.

Eide said both leaders discussed their “shared vision” of a Cyprus unified under a federal structure, and agreed to meet at least twice a month.

The potential benefits of peace are huge.

Both communities would reap hundreds of millions in investment and economic growth. Turkish Cypriots would break their dependence on the military and financial might of Turkey which bankrolls the internationally isolated north and keeps more than 30,000 troops there.

Peace would also bolster regional security, unlock cooperation on the region’s offshore gas deposits and ease Turkey’s EU bid.

In a sign of mutual commitment to peace, the two leaders agreed to work on a number of steps aimed at building confidence, Eide said. As a small first step Friday, Anastasiades disclosed the coordinates of 28 minefields dotting a mountain range in the north. Akinci announced that people crossing any of the seven north-south checkpoints along the U.N. controlled buffer zone will no longer need to fill out a form, speeding up the process.

Eide said the leaders also agreed to set up a committee promoting cultural events and underlined the issue of the hundreds of Greek and Turkish Cypriots who vanished during inter-communal fighting in the 1960s and the 1974 Turkish invasion.

Anastasiades said more such steps may be announced on May 28 when he meets Akinci again. The two leaders will meet socially on May 23rd, to show their “unity in promoting a mutually acceptable” peace deal, Eide said.

Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Tanju Bilgic said there are expectations that “a fair, lasting and comprehensive” deal will be reached this year. “Our priority is a solution in which the political equality of the Turkish Cypriot side is guaranteed,” he said.

But similar optimism has preceded previous rounds of what ended up being failed talks, most recently in 2008.

Nicosia University Political Science Professor Giorgos Kentas, cautioned that there is no tangible sign that this round is driven by “some sort of exceptional momentum.”

Aside from the agreed belief in a federal structure, Kentas also said there’s still ambiguity over the nuts and bolts of a peace accord that needs to be cleared up to overcome a “culture of negativity.”

Previous talks have stumbled on key issues including how power will be shared, military intervention rights and property rights of displaced communities from 1974.

___

Suzan Fraser in Ankara contributed.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

World News

Ukrainian servicemen carry the coffin with the remains of Army Col. Oleksander Makhachek during a f...
Associated Press

As Ukraine loses troops, how long can it keep up the fight?

ZHYTOMYR (AP) — As soon as they had finished burying a veteran colonel killed by Russian shelling, the cemetery workers readied the next hole. Inevitably, given how quickly death is felling Ukrainian troops on the front lines, the empty grave won’t stay that way for long. Col. Oleksandr Makhachek left behind a widow, Elena, and […]
21 days ago
(Instagram photo/@Clayton.Wolfe)...
Wills Rice

Arizona realtor announces new listing on ‘the top-floor’ of Mount Everest

Arizona realtor Clayton Wolfe scaled the treacherous 29,035-foot heights of Mount Everest in Nepal and announced a new listing at the summit.
22 days ago
(Photo by: Jonathan Wiggs/Boston Globe/Getty Images)...
Associated Press

‘Tiger King’ star ‘Doc’ Antle arrested for money laundering charges

“Tiger King” star “Doc” Antle was arrested by the FBI and expected to appear in court Monday to face federal money laundering charges.
22 days ago
(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)...
Associated Press

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey in Israel for talks with political and business leaders

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey is in Israel for five days of talks with political and business leaders of the Middle Eastern country.
28 days ago
A man rides a bicycle in front of a building ruined by shelling in Borodyanka, on the outskirts of ...
Associated Press

Russia takes steps to bolster army, tighten grip on Ukraine

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin issued an order Wednesday to fast track Russian citizenship for residents of parts of southern Ukraine largely held by his forces, while lawmakers in Moscow passed a bill to strengthen the stretched Russian army. Putin’s decree applying to the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions could allow Russia to […]
1 month ago
FILE - McDonald's restaurant is seen in the center of Dmitrov, a Russian town 75 km., (47 miles) no...
Associated Press

De-Arching: McDonald’s to sell Russia business, exit country

McDonald’s is closing its doors in Russia, ending an era of optimism and increasing the country’s isolation over its war in Ukraine. The Chicago burger giant confirmed Monday that it is selling its 850 restaurants in Russia. McDonald’s said it will seek a buyer who will employ its 62,000 workers in Russia, and will continue […]
1 month ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Carla Berg, MHS, Deputy Director, Public Health Services, Arizona Department of Health Services

Vaccines are safe if you are pregnant or breastfeeding

Are you pregnant? Do you have a friend or loved one who’s expecting?
...
CANVAS ANNUITY

Best retirement savings rates hit 4.30%

Maximize your retirement savings with guaranteed fixed rates up to 4.30%. Did you know there is a financial product that can give you great interest rates as you build your retirement savings and provide you with a paycheck for life once you retire? It might sound too good to be true but it is not; this product is called an annuity.
...
Carla Berg, MHS, Deputy Director, Public Health Services, Arizona Department of Health Services

Update your child’s vaccines before kindergarten

So, your little one starts kindergarten soon. How exciting! You still have a few months before the school year starts, so now’s the time to make sure students-to-be have the vaccines needed to stay safe as they head into a new chapter of life.
Cyprus’ rival leaders restart peace talks after hiatus