UN diplomats struggled on Wednesday to revive stalled peace talks on Cyprus, where an ethnic division dating back four decades is dogging Turkey’s bid to join the European Union.
United Nations envoys have been shuttling between the two sides of the split Mediterranean island trying to agree on the wording of a joint statement by Greek and Turkish Cypriots to pave the way for resuming talks after an 18-month hiatus.
But so far there is little sign of a breakthrough.
“We are all putting a huge effort into this joint declaration, it’s a very important component of the process and the Secretary-General wants the two leaders to agree on a joint declaration, so work is still proceeding,” said Alexander Downer, Ban Ki-moon’s special representative for the island.
In earlier visits to Cyprus, Downer had said he hoped talks could resume in October. On Wednesday he said efforts were “inching ahead, not leaping ahead.”
But a Greek Cypriot official said the process was not deadlocked.
Cyprus was split by a Turkish invasion following a Greek-inspired coup on the island in 1974 and Ankara’s aspirations of joining the EU hinge on a deal to finally end the conflict.
Negotiations have repeatedly stumbled on issues ranging from power sharing to redrawing territorial boundaries and the property claims of tens of thousands displaced in conflict. [Reuters]