Remembering the Historic Cyprus Negotiations: From Past to Present

The negotiations for the resolution of the Cyprus issue are regarded as one of the most intractable disputes in modern history. The conflict stems from the ethnic and political divide between the Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, who have been at odds ever since Cyprus gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1960.

The negotiations commenced soon after the island was ripped apart by a Turkish invasion in 1974, which aimed to protect the minority Turkish Cypriot community following disputes over self-determination. The invasion led to the partition of the island, with Turkish Cypriots setting up a de facto state in the north, while the Greek Cypriots retained control over the south.

Throughout the years, numerous initiatives were launched by the international community to find a peaceful resolution to the conflict. The most notable ones being the Annan Plan, which was intended to facilitate a bi-zonal, bi-communal federal solution with a strong central government and limited powers to the constituent states, but was rejected by the Greek Cypriots in 2004, and the Crans-Montana talks, which ended in failure in 2017, due to disagreements over security and the withdrawal of the Turkish Armed Forces from the island.

However, since the election of the pro-reunification candidate, Nicos Anastasiades, as President of Cyprus in 2013, a new momentum has emerged in the negotiations, driven by the prospect of securing a peaceful settlement for future generations.

The latest round of talks, which took place in Geneva in April 2021, brought together the leaders of the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities, as well as the foreign ministers of Greece, Turkey, and the United Kingdom, the three guarantor powers of Cyprus‘ independence. The negotiations focused on the challenges of a new bi-communal, bi-zonal federation, including the redrawing of borders, property rights, power-sharing, and security arrangements.

The talks were described as „positive and productive“ by UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, who called on all parties to „seize the moment“ and work towards a resolution that would lead to the reunification of the island.

Despite the progress made, the negotiations are still complex, and significant challenges remain. The Turkish government’s insistence on keeping a military presence on the island and the arrangement of rights concerning hydrocarbons are just two areas where the two communities disagree.

In conclusion, the negotiations for the resolution of the Cyprus issue have gone through many ups and downs over the past five decades, and despite the progress made, a peaceful resolution is yet to be found. Although the recent round of talks offers a glimmer of hope for all parties, it remains to be seen if this renewed momentum can translate into lasting peace for the communities of Cyprus.

ACM Cyprus

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