Cyprus leaders ask UN support for unification
By Eric Maurice
Leaders of the two parts of Cyprus will meet the UN secretary general at the end of the month in a push to reach an agreement on the island's reunification.
After eight meetings in recent weeks, Cypriot president Nicos Anastasiades and the leader of the Turkish-occupied Northern Cyprus Mustafa Akinci said on Wednesday (14 September) they were "committed to continuing and intensifying their efforts".
They will meet Ban Ki-moon in New York on 25 September to report on the progress in negotiations and ask him to "intensify his personal engagement".
In a common statement read to journalists by UN envoy Espen Barth Eide, they said they are "cognisant of the remaining challenges" but are still aiming at "reaching a comprehensive agreement within 2016".
They said they have achieved "significant progress" in areas such as "governance and power-sharing, economy, the EU matters and property" but they recognised that "certain substantial divergences still remain."
Hopes of a settlement 42 years after Turkey invaded the island and created a Turkish entity (which no one but Turkey recognises) have been high since Anastasiades and Akinci said in January they would try to solve the issue this year.
"We need to get this done. Now," European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker said in his state of the union speech also on Wednesday. He added that "Europe is a driving force that can help bring about the unification of Cyprus."
The remaining stumbling points of the negotiations are the chapters on security and the so-called guarantees, and on territory.
Since its independence in 1960, Cyprus' sovereignty is guaranted by the UK (the former colonial power), Greece, and Turkey.
The Greek and Turkish Cypriots said they "exchanged views and positions, in a brainstorming manner" but could not yet agree. They said they still hope to resolve these issues "in a mutually acceptable manner".
Greek Cypriots refuses that Turkey, an occupying power since 1974, keeps rights on a reunified island.
The funding of a reunification plan will also be discussed during the UN meeting.