Greek PM to visit Cyprus ahead of UN mediation

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis arrives in Nicosia today to meet with Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades. A Greek-backed coup aimed

Greek PM visits Cyprus

Photo: Ekathimerini

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis arrives in Nicosia today to meet with Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades.

A Greek-backed coup aimed at unifying Cyprus with Greece in 1974 saw Turkey invade under claims that it was protecting the island’s Turkish ethnic minority, sundering the island into two ethnically-delineated states. Decades of talks have failed at reconciliation, with the most recent negotiations in 2017 likewise ending in failure. Today’s visit precedes a new round of UN-facilitated talks in March.

Core to the conflict is Anastasiades’ northern counterpart, President Ersin Tatar, a Turkish nationalist who has called for recognition of “two equal sovereign states,” which stands in contrast to the UN’s position favoring reunification of the two republics. Conversely, Greek Cypriots largely oppose any deal legitimising the Turkish-backed Northern republic. Another contentious point is access to Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), where drilling interests are both highly prized and protected.

Expect Mitsotakis to uphold Greek Cypriot positions ahead of March’s UN-backed summit, including refusing to discuss Turkish access to the EEZ. Likewise, expect vocal Greek opposition to the presence of Turkish troops on Cyprus, a Turkish sticking point throughout negotiations. Fresh talks are a promising sign but do not expect much progress given that both sides enter with multiple strict non-negotiables.

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