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Leaders of Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities attempt to revive peace talks

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Leaders of Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities attempt to revive peace talks

cyprus talks
Photo: AFP/Kena Betancu0

Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and Mustafa Akinci, the leader of Turkish Cyprus, meet for informal talks today in Nicosia under the auspices of the UN.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish forces invaded and occupied the northern half of the Mediterranean island. Ethnic divisions have deepened since then, forcing ethnic Turks to the north and ethnic Greeks to the south.

Countless rounds of peace talks have failed to reunify the country over the years. UN-backed talks in 2017 and 2018 fell apart over ethnic tensions, security issues and disputes over offshore gas exploration. Likewise, discussions in February yielded no results.

Power sharing between Cypriot Greeks—the nearly 75% ethnic majority—and Turks in a potential unified government now represents the largest stumbling block. Turks want a 50% legislative share of the national government to protect the ethnic minority from Greek Cypriot domination, while Greeks favour regional governance to ensure parity. Security issues related to the potential withdrawal of Turkish forces from the island, and questions regarding the return of Turks to southern Cyprus and Greeks to the north also remain.

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Photo: AP/ Carly Petesch

An agreement today to resume formal peace talks without preconditions would be a marked success, but expectations should remain tempered given the grievances remaining on both sides.

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