U.N. Cyprus envoy say sees no obstacle to new peace talks

Reuters News
Posted: Apr 07, 2015 8:03 AM

NICOSIA (Reuters) - A U.N. envoy for ethnically-split Cyprus said on Tuesday he expected stalled peace talks to resume "within weeks", following a six-month suspension in a row over offshore gas reserves.

Norwegian diplomat Espen Barth Eide said he had met Greek and Turkish Cypriot leaders earlier on Tuesday, and that they both agreed the "circumstances were now right" for the resumption of negotiations.

"I see no obstacle to a very early resumption of talks once the election process in the north of Cyprus is done," said Eide, who oversees the Cyprus peace process for the United Nations.

Northern Cyprus, a breakaway Turkish Cypriot state, holds presidential elections on April 19.

Greek Cypriots suspended their participation in peace talks last October, furious at moves by Turkey to send research ships into areas Nicosia had licensed for offshore oil and gas exploration.

A maritime advisory for seismic research Turkey issued over the area expired on April 6, and companies licensed by Cyprus have ceased drilling for gas after coming up empty.

Turkey, and by extension the Turkish Cypriots it supports in breakaway north Cyprus, do not recognize Cypriot sovereignty and say any natural resources should be equitably shared by both communities.

The island was split in a Turkish invasion in 1974 triggered by a brief Greek inspired coup. The stated aim of the talks is to achieve the reunification of Cyprus.

(Reporting By Michele Kambas; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)