After more than four decades of division, the ongoing settlement talks on the potential reuni-fication of Cyprus have reached a critical juncture. Since the beginning of a new round of negotiations in May 2015, the leaders of the Greek and Turkish communities, Nicos Anastasiades and Mustafa Akinci, have made substantial progress on the steep road to reunification. Whilst a summit in Geneva in January did not result in the desired breakthrough, it is clear the talks have entered their final phase. Although there is agreement on many issues, negotiations are continuing on questions of territory and the property of displaced persons. The withdrawal of troops and the abolition of the guarantee system are also key issues where an agreement is still pending.
The result of the settlement talks depends not only on Greek and Turkish Cypriots and their political leaders. The three guarantor states Great Britain, Turkey and Greece are also involved in the peace and reunification process. Since the partition of the island in 1974, Turkey has maintained influence over the internationally not recognized “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus”. Greece’s decision to support a deal could be influenced by internal political affairs, although the government in Athens has so far endorsed the settlement talks. Moreover, the European Union is participating in the negotiations, providing important input with respect to aspects of the settlement that will affect a reunified island as a member state of the union.
Ultimately it will up to Cypriots living on both sides of the island to decide, in two simultaneous referenda, whether they wish to unify soon or perpetuate the separation. Approaching the endgame of negotiations, crucial questions and stumbling blocks need to be overcome: How many displaced persons will have the right to return and what will happen to their properties? How can the security of both Greek and Turkish Cypriots be guaranteed in the future? How will power sharing between both sides work?
These are just a few of the questions we plan to discuss at our policy dialogue, with experts from Brussels and Cyprus.