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UNITED NATIONS – Greek and Turkish Cypriot leaders will return to Geneva on June 28 for talks aimed at tackling some of the thorniest issues in the way of a historic deal on the reunification of Cyprus.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres will attend the talks with Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades, who heads the island’s internationally recognized government, and his Turkish Cypriot counterpart Mustafa Akinci, the UN announced on Friday, June 9.
Guterres persuaded the two leaders to return to the negotiating table during a 4-hour meeting at UN headquarters in New York on Sunday.
Guarantor powers Greece, Turkey and Britain will also attend, as will a representative of the European Union as an observer.
UN envoy Espen Barth Eide on Monday said the two-year diplomatic effort to reach a settlement was in its “final mile.”
The leaders will have to decide on “giving final accommodations and concessions that haven’t been given before,” he said. (READ: Cypriot leaders to swap maps on unified island)
The UN-led talks hit a wall in late May after the sides failed to agree on the terms to advance the reunification talks toward a final summit.
A key stumbling block remains new security arrangements that would address Greek Cypriot demands for a withdrawal of Turkish troops as a priority and Turkish Cypriot insistence that other issues should be addressed first.
The negotiations are aimed at creating a new federation in Cyprus.
However, disagreements over the return of property and power-sharing have yet to be fully resolved. (READ: Swiss talks break down in blow for Cyprus peace hopes)
The UN envoy is working on a specific document on security that would outline the various steps needed to address both sides’ demands.
UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said the proposed security deal will be finalized “before the conference, in order to help guide the discussions on security and guarantees.”
Eide said the next round would probably last two weeks.
The eastern Mediterranean island has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded its northern third in response to an Athens-inspired coup seeking union with Greece.
Turkey maintains some 35,000 troops in the north of the island.
The United Nations, which has 950 peacekeepers serving in Cyprus, could have some oversight role to implement the new security arrangements.
After Greek Cypriots rejected a UN reunification blueprint in a referendum in 2004, Cyprus joined the EU still a divided island, with the breakaway north recognized only by Turkey. – Rappler.com