Cypriot leaders say Berlin meeting was a positive step

Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades and his Turkish Cypriot counterpart, Mustafa Akıncı said on Monday that their informal meeting in Berlin had been a positive step toward resuming dialogue for renewed peace talks over the divided island. 

The Cypriot leaders had dinner with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to discuss the terms of reference for peace talks that have been in deadlock since 2017. Guterres said both leaders had reaffirmed their commitment and determination to achieve a settlement based on a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation with political equality, in a statement after the meeting

Guterres said he believed the two leaders were “motivated by a sense of urgency”, adding that both had agreed that the status quo was unsustainable. 

Cyprus has been split between a Greek Cypriot administration in the south, recognised internationally as the government of the whole island, and a breakaway Turkish Cypriot government in the north recognised only by Turkey, after a Turkish invasion of the northern third of Cyprus in 1974.  

Despite well-known difficulties, the result of today’s meeting is considered a very positive first step in the effort to resume the dialogue, Cyprus News Agency quoted the Greek Cypriot president as saying following the meeting. “I believe a positive step has been taken here today,” said his Turkish counterpart.

The leaders agreed to convene a five-party conference for peace talks next year with the participation of guarantor countries Greece and Turkey. Both said that they aimed for result-oriented negotiations rather than a prolonged process. 

Anastasiades said that in order to resume negotiations, Turkey should cease its aggressive policies against Cyprus, referring to Ankara’s drilling activities near the island and plans to reopen the fenced-off former resort town of Varosha for settlement. The tensions in the eastern Mediterranean could escalate to an unwanted level if peace talks fail, Akıncı said.