NEWS

Greek, Turkish Cypriots to discuss territory trade-offs in November

MICHELE KAMBAS

TAGS: Cyprus, Diplomacy

Territorial trade-offs in a peace deal for ethnically-split Cyprus will be discussed by rival sides next month as they edge closer to a blueprint which will be put to referendum, officials say.

Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci will meet from November 7-11 at a location outside Cyprus to discuss territorial adjustments.

“It will likely be in Switzerland,” Anastasiades told reporters in Nicosia, Cyprus's ethnically split capital. In separate comments, Akinci said the talks would take place in Geneva.

Cyprus was split in a Turkish invasion in 1974 that forced mass displacement of its populations with Greek Cypriots now living in its south and Turkish Cypriots in its north. A United Nations peacekeeping force mans a ceasefire line splitting the two sides.

Anastasiades and Akinci started an intensive round of peace negotiations this year, focused on how to reunite the island under a federal umbrella. Territorial adjustments are an integral part of any deal to unite Cyprus as a federation with two semi-autonomous zones. Turkish Cypriots now control some 37 percent of Cypriot territory.

Previous reunification proposals have given the numerically larger Greek Cypriots a bigger proportion of territory than they now occupy, and a smaller slice to Turkish Cypriots who were no more than 20 percent of Cyprus’s population when the invasion occurred in 1974.

That included a northwards shift of the line now splitting Cyprus east to west and the return to Greek Cypriot control of the town of Morphou, known as Guzelyurt in Turkish, and Varosha, an eastern coastal resort once popular with Hollywood movie stars, now crumbling and abandoned.

Greek Cypriots rejected in a referendum a blueprint drafted by the United Nations in 2004, saying it failed to adequately protect them against Turkey.

To date, no new referendum has been set, though it is believed that if the sides do agree on a comprehensive peace plan a vote will be held early in the new year.

[Reuters]

Online