The United Nations said Wednesday it holds “high expectations” of Cyprus peace talks which have entered a new intensified phase of negotiations aimed at reunifying the Mediterranean island.
Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish-Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci launched intensified talks Tuesday covering the core issue of property, security and territorial adjustments.
After meeting Anastasiades, UN envoy Espen Barth Eide said he held “high expectations” that the coming sessions – due to run until September 14 – could produce a roadmap for peace.
“Some things are in brainstorming mode, some of them in negotiating mode, but there is no taboo to issues that can be discussed at least in a very close format between the leaders,” he said.
“I would say that today all issues are on the table and I have great expectations for these seven meetings,” he told reporters.
The Norwegian envoy said this was a crucial phase.
“But now this is really the time of Mr Anastasiades and Mr Akinci to bridge the gaps and my work is to help them as much as I can.”
Eide said Ankara remained supportive of the process but the failed coup in Turkey in July was a reminder that Cyprus's window of opportunity may not “remain open forever”.
After four decades of division, the latest round of long-stalled UN-brokered peace talks were launched in May 2015.
Both leaders have expressed hope that an elusive Cyprus settlement can finally be reached this year.
For negotiations to move beyond past stumbling blocks, tough decisions must be taken on territorial changes, security and property.
The leaders are still working on a formula to resolve the key issues that would clear the way for a united, federal Cyprus.
The island, which joined the EU in 2004, has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops occupied its northern third in response to an Athens-inspired coup seeking union with Greece.