NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) – A United Nations envoy called off talks with the rival leaders of ethnically divided Cyprus on Friday after failing to find “common ground” on convening a final summit to aim for an overall reunification deal, but the U.N. said the years-long peace process had not collapsed.
Espen Barth Eide had been meeting separately with the leaders over the past nine days but said there is no reason to continue since there is “no prospect” for agreement on the summit’s details.
“Unfortunately, despite serious efforts to overcome their differences regarding the modalities for meeting in Geneva, the leaders were unable to find common ground,” Eide said in a statement. “Without a prospect for common ground, there is no basis for continuing this shuttle diplomacy.”
Eide said he would consult with U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on the next steps.
The peace process hasn’t fallen apart, Aleem Siddique, spokesman for the U.N. in Cyprus, told The Associated Press. He said it’s now up to the island’s Greek Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci to decide on the way forward.
Two years of negotiations have made significant progress on how to share power in an envisioned federation, but they have stumbled on pivotal issues of post-reunification security arrangements and how much territory each side would administer.
The island was split in 1974 when Turkey invaded following a coup by supporters of union with Greece.
The current impasse concerns the 35,000 troops that Turkey keeps in the breakaway Turkish Cypriot north. Greek Cypriots want all Turkish troops gone as part of any deal and propose an international police force to oversee security. The minority Turkish Cypriots say the troops are their only security guarantee. Turkish officials have said there can be no peace deal without a Turkish troop presence.
Anastasiades has proposed resolving the security issue first at a final summit before settling remaining disagreements, arguing this would ensure a successful outcome. Akinci insists on negotiating all outstanding issues together as part of a give-and-take process.