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EU official: Cyprus accord ‘game changer’ for bloc, region

TAGS: Cyprus, Diplomacy

A deal reunifying ethnically divided Cyprus would be a "game changer" for the European Union and a conflict-wracked region in need of good news to restore faith in diplomacy and political discourse, the EU's foreign policy chief said Friday.

Federica Mogherini, the EU's High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security, said a Cyprus deal would be extremely important for a region "that needs hope and trust in diplomacy and political solutions as no other region in the world needs."

She said the EU fully supports and encourages peace talks that are moving into a crucial phase next month.

A 1974 Turkish invasion triggered by a coup aimed at union with Greece split the island into a breakaway Turkish speaking north and an internationally recognized Greek speaking south. Cyprus joined the EU in 2004, but only the southern part enjoys full membership benefits.

Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades, a Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci will conduct negotiations in Switzerland Nov. 7-11 on how much territory each side would administer under an envisioned federation.

Anastasiades and United Nations envoy Espen Barth Eide, who is facilitating talks, said the Mont Pelerin negotiations will determine whether or not the target of reaching a settlement by year's end is possible. Eide said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will open the talks.

Mogherini said the EU shares the two leaders' assessment that remaining obstacles in the way of a deal can be overcome.

"So, somehow it's a regional and even global responsibility to try and do this last mile in the most positive way," Mogherini said after talks with Cypriot Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides.

Anastasiades and Akinci have made much headway since talks resumed in May last year. But key differences remain, including how much territory will comprise each federated state and Turkish military intervention rights that Turkish Cypriots see as necessary for their security and Greek Cypriots see as a threat.

Mogherini said the post-settlement security arrangements are something for the leaders to decide.

"Obviously the best guarantee for security for any country in the world is a well-functioning," said Mogherini. [AP]

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