Top U.N. official hoped to clinch Cyprus peace deal

Reuters News
Posted: Jul 06, 2017 6:25 AM

CRANS-MONTANA, Switzerland (Reuters) - United Nations mediators brought in the U.N.'s highest official in a last-minute push for a peace deal in Cyprus on Thursday, hoping he would clinch an agreement between the opposing Greek Cypriot and Turkish sides.

It was the second time in a week negotiators drafted in U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to help out at talks in Crans-Montana in Switzerland, widely considered the best chance yet to end the conflict.

Major sticking points include the future governance of Cyprus and Turkey's role in any deal.

The foreign ministers of Greece and Turkey were also present at the talks, backing up the leaders of the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities respectively.

The talks are just the latest in many international attempts to mediate a peace deal which has defied mediation for years.

"The problem has always been who goes first with concessions that will allow the others to follow," a diplomat at the talks told Reuters.

"It is now obvious that only the Secretary-General has the authority and stature to press the various parties and perhaps find a way to break this deadlock."

Turkey's military presence in northern Cyprus, where it maintains up to 30,000 troops, is a major point of contention, sources said. Turkey was not willing to compromise on the presence of its forces on the island.

Greek Cypriots had previously objected to Turkish Cypriot demands for a rotating presidency, but the above source and another said it had indicated its readiness to discuss such an arrangement under conditions.

One of the sources also said Turkey may be willing to rethink its role on guarantor rights. Turkey, Greece and Britain are guarantor powers of Cyprus in an independence treaty which granted the former colony independence in 1960.

That treaty gives them intervention rights to restore constitutional order. Greek Cypriots want that right dismantled, since it was invoked by Turkey to invade the island in 1974 after a brief Greek inspired coup and still keeps troops there.

(Writing by Michele Kambas; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)