No deal in sight at Cyprus talks

VIENNA: Negotiators have not been able to move closer to a final deal that would end the separation of Cyprus into a Greek and a Turkish side after 40 years, the Greek Cypriot side said on the second day of talks in Geneva.
“We are as far removed from a solution as we are from a non-solution. Difficult topics are being discussed,” said Nikos Christodoulides, government spokesman for the Greek side of the Mediterranean island.
The Greek and Turkish leaders of Cyprus — Nicos Anastasiades and Mustafa Akinci — discussed the economic costs of a reunification and how a future federal Cyprus will be governed.
However, Greek and Turkish Cypriot media reported that both leaders remain apart on the issue of the presidency of the reunited country.
In addition, the presence of troops from neighbouring Turkey on the island is also unresolved.
Greek Cypriots want these troops to leave, while the Turkish community wants Ankara to remain their protector, with a military presence on Cyprus.
A breakthrough on this issue was “not in sight” at the moment, a Cypriot diplomat said.
Both sides have been conducting talks for 19 months.
Anastasiades and Akinci are scheduled to hold bilateral meetings until Wednesday. On Thursday, Greece, Turkey and Britain — Cyprus’ former colonial power — are set to join them to negotiate the external security of Cyprus.
In the latest round, the leaders are to meet for three days to pore over a range of difficult topics, and by Wednesday they should be ready to provide maps of their proposals for the internal boundaries of a future bi-zonal federation on the eastern Mediterranean island. If that goes to plan, they will be joined from Thursday by representatives of the island’s three guarantor powers — former colonial ruler Britain, Greece and Turkey.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras are expected to attend, while Britain will reportedly be represented by Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson.
European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker is also planning to attend as an observer, his spokesman said.
Both sides acknowledge key issues still need to be thrashed out, with the prospects of solving one of the world’s longest-running geopolitical disputes remaining murky.
Some experts believe the talks are a disaster waiting to happen because of deep divisions on core issues such as property, territorial adjustments and security.
The two Cypriot leaders have voiced cautious optimism.
Akinci on Sunday described the talks as a “crossroads”, while Anastasiades tweeted that he was heading to Geneva “with hope, confidence and unity”. — AFP