NEWS

Juncker tells Cyprus to make peace now

juncker-tells-cyprus-to-make-peace-now

Long-divided Cyprus has no better chance than now to strike a UN-brokered peace deal, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker told the Cypriot parliament on Friday.

"You have to do it now, immediately, because this is an enormous window of opportunity and you have to do it, all together, and you will not have to do it alone," Juncker said.

"The European Union will follow this process day by day and if it is done, the money will be there. I am not promising money, I am describing the future of this great nation," he added.

Juncker called the current negotiations a "crucial moment for Cyprus history".

Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci are engaged in UN-mediated peace talks seen as the best chance in years to reunify Cyprus.

The country has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops occupied its northern third in response to an Athens-inspired coup seeking union with Greece.

A new round of long-stalled UN-brokered peace talks began on May 15.

"I believe that they can solve the Cyprus problem," Juncker said.

"These are the only men who will be able to do now what should have been done in the past. Don't believe that those who are coming after our generation will be able to do it," he added.

Juncker, from Luxembourg, said Cyprus should not let a painful past decide its future, and spoke from personal experience of a war-torn Europe.

"Germany invaded Luxembourg twice in a century. I lost members of my family in concentration camps," he said.

"My father, one of 12 children, was incorporated by force, together with three of his brothers, into the German Wehrmacht. They had to fight, in a hated uniform, against those who were trying to liberate my country."

If Europe could make peace after such tragedies, "why should it not it be possible to do the same here?" Juncker asked.

A divided Cyprus joined the European Union in 2004 following a failed peace plan which effectively saw European law applied only in the government-controlled south.

[AFP]