(Nicosia) Cyprus’s new president, Nicos Christodoulides, met on Wednesday with a senior United Nations official visiting the divided capital Nicosia for the first time, hoping to find “ways forward” towards a resumption of the dialogue on the reunification of the island.
UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Rosemary DiCarlo spoke for about an hour with Mr. Christodoulides, elected in February after a campaign in which he came out tougher than his opponents on a possible resumption talks after six years of deadlock.
“We have discussed the Cyprus problem at length and we simply want to reiterate the commitments of the Secretary General (of the UN, Antonio Guterres, editor’s note) to support a resolution” of the United Nations on this subject, said Ms. DiCarlo to journalists, at the outcome of this meeting.
Since 2017, talks on the reunification of the Mediterranean island, under the aegis of the UN, have stalled. Cyprus has been divided since Turkey’s 1974 invasion of its northern third, in response to a coup by Greek-Cypriot nationalists who wanted to reunite it with Greece.
A member of the European Union since 2004, the Republic of Cyprus exercises its authority only over the southern part of the island, separated from the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (RTCN, self-proclaimed and recognized only by Ankara) by the Line Green, a UN-controlled demilitarized zone.
Ms DiCarlo said she had “an excellent meeting” with the Cypriot president, adding that she would “discuss ways to move forward” in another meeting with Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar, head of the TRNC.
The latter, close to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, recently called on the international community to “recognize the existence” of two states in Cyprus, a red line for the Greek-Cypriot authorities.
The diplomat later described as “very fruitful” this meeting with Mr. Tatar, which notably focused on “the need to strengthen the technical commissions”, according to a video message posted on the Twitter account of the United Nations in Cyprus.
These 12 committees aim to enable the two communities, Greek-Cypriot and Turkish-Cypriot, to dialogue on various subjects of common interest, such as culture or gender equality.
MM. Christodoulides and Tatar first met in February. The Cypriot president then assured that he wanted “nothing more than to end the blockage”.
According to its spokesperson Konstantinos Letymbiotis, the Cypriot presidency on Wednesday expressed to Ms. DiCarlo its determination to resume negotiations immediately.
“We are already at the negotiating table and we hope that Mr. Tatar will come to this table with a sincere desire to reach a solution for a two-zone, two-community federation,” the spokesperson said.
Ms. DiCarlo was also due to visit the nearly 800 UN peacekeepers deployed in the demilitarized zone which separates the two parts of the island and cuts Nicosia in two.
In his semi-annual report submitted to the UN Security Council, Antonio Guterres shared his concerns about “a growing militarization of the ceasefire line” in Cyprus and a political climate marked by a “significant hardening of positions”. .
“Prospects for a mutually acceptable resolution continue to recede,” he wrote.