As much as Thursday was meant to be a ‘decisive day’ for the reunification of Cyprus, neither the Greek Cypriot nor the Turkish Cypriot sides seem to agree in the talks taking place in the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
On Monday, the UN received proposals from both sides, as well as from the three guarantor nations: Greece, Turkey, and the UK.
Cyprus reunification talks have moved into their most critical phase yet after leaders representing the island’s Greek and Turkish communities agreed it was possible only with equal rights for both communities.
The UN is seeking a peace deal to unite Cyprus under a federal umbrella, which could also define the future of Europe’s relations with Turkey, a key player in the conflict that has divided the island since the 1974 Turkish invasion.
One of the main thorns inhibiting an agreement is that Greek Cypriots perceive the 35,000 Turkish soldiers as a threat and want them all removed while the Turkish Cypriot side wants the troops to stay as protection.
Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said this week that a full troop withdrawal was out of the question, Associated Press reports.
Greece also wants military intervention rights that Cyprus’ 1960 constitution granted to the guarantors abolished.
It also wants to retain some of those rights while demanding to take turns holding the island’s federal presidency.
Meanwhile, the possibility of UN troop withdrawal and the prospect of Anastasiades emerging not only as peacemaker but as president of a united Cyprus had focused minds among the UN officials.
Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci who remains firmly opposed to the proposals presented by the island’s Greek Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades offered nothing substantial and served only to score “points with the public”, describing them as “offensive”.
Cavusoglu quoted Akinci to Anadolu Agency, adding that Anastasiades offered his latest proposals as different, “but at the end when you read it, nothing is new” and went as far as to criticise Greek Cypriots for not showing “good intentions and flexibility.”
Anastasiades defended his side saying that the proposals were even-handed and addressed the concerns of both the Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot communities.
It seems that any accord would have to be put to a referendum and would likely take months to finesse as technocrats draw up a new constitution and treaty of implementation.