United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres (C) speaks as Greek Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades (R) and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci (L) listen on during a news conference following the Conference on Cyprus Peace Talks, at the European headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva, on January 12, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
After a nearly two-month break, rival Cypriot leaders have agreed to restart stalled peace talks aimed at reunifying ethnically divided Cyprus, the United Nations says.
The announcement came after a meeting between UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and Mustafa Akinci, the leader of the breakaway Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, in the Belgian capital Brussels on Tuesday.
UN Envoy Espen Barth Eide in a statement that talks on reunifying the island will resume next week.
“Special Adviser of the Secretary-General (SASG) on Cyprus, Mr Espen Barth Eide, has announced the Cyprus Talks will resume following consultations with both sides and today’s meeting between the Secretary-General and the Turkish Cypriot leader,” the statement read.
“The leaders will resume negotiations at 10am on Tuesday 11 April 2017. The meeting will be held under the auspices of SASG Eide,” it added.
Earlier on Tuesday, the Greek Cypriot leader, Nicos Anastasiades, told reporters that his administration was ready to resume talks at any time.
“Our position remains that we are ready at any given moment to continue the dialogue… The whole effort is focused on our desire for a solution to the Cyprus problem.”
The announcement also comes after Anastasiades and Akinci met for a four-hour dinner on Sunday. The dinner was held at the Ledra Palace Hotel in the buffer zone in the divided capital, Nicosia
Outside the venue, scores of Greek and Turkish Cypriot demonstrators chanted for a “solution now.”
Anastasiades and Akinci have been engaged in fragile peace talks since May 2015, which observers saw as the best chance in years to reunify the island.
But the UN-backed process came to a standstill in February in a row over Greek Cypriot schools marking the anniversary of an unofficial 1950 referendum supporting union with Greece.
(From L) Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci, Swiss Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter, Greek Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres pose before taking part in the Conference on Cyprus at the European headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva on January 12, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
Akinci suspended his participation over the Cyprus Parliament’s approval of a move for Greek Cypriot schools to commemorate the poll.
Since the bill passed, a previous climate of trust between the two sides has crumbled. The leaders of both sides of ethically divided Cyprus have blamed each other for the impasse.
Observers say obstacles to progress will remain even when the negotiations resume. The leaders are still far apart on core issues such as power sharing, territorial adjustments and property rights.
The eastern Mediterranean island has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded the northern third in response to an Athens-inspired coup seeking unification.
After a failed referendum on a UN peace plan in 2004, the Cyprus Republic joined the European Union as a divided country.
The self-declared republic in the Turkish-held north is recognized only by Turkey.
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