UN envoy: Cyprus peace talks unlikely to resume anytime soon

By Menelaos Hadjicostis, Associated Press | Posted - Jul. 24, 2017 at 11:51 a.m.



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NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) — A United Nations envoy said Monday that he sees little chance that talks to reunify ethnically split Cyprus would restart anytime soon after their collapse in Switzerland earlier this month.

United Nations Special Adviser on Cyprus Espen Barth Eide said after separate meetings with the leaders of the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities that neither side offered hope for a quick return to negotiations.

"I have not heard anything here that suggests that something will happen in the very near future," Eide said.

He said both sides are going through a "cooling-off" period following the failure of 10 days of high-level talks in Switzerland that also involved top diplomats from the island nation's guarantors — Greece, Turkey and former colonial ruler Britain.

Eide said the U.N. remains committed to supporting a process that would reunify Cyprus as a federation.

He suggested a key element that scotched a deal was disagreement on what should happen to the more than 35,000 troops Turkey has kept in the island's breakaway Turkish Cypriot north since 1974 when it invaded following a coup by supporters of union with Greece.

Greek Cypriots wanted all Turkish troops gone and military intervention rights abolished as part of a peace deal. They proposed that they be replaced by an international police force that would include Turkish officers.

Turkey and Turkish Cypriots wanted the troops to stay.

Cyprus government spokesman Nicos Christodoulides said for talks to resume, Turkey must drop its demands for troops and intervention rights so Cyprus can become what U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres described as a "normal state."

Eide said he will prepare a report on the failed outcome of the Swiss talks before leaving his post to stand in Norwegian parliamentary elections in September.

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Menelaos Hadjicostis

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