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'Crucial' round of renewed Cyprus peace talks to begin Monday

Talks to reunite the two sides of the Cypriot island are set to resume in Geneva. The Mediterranean island and EU member state has been separated since 1974.

Zypern Mustafa Akinci & Nicos Anastasiades (Getty Images/AFP/I. Hatzistavrou)

Cypriot leaders Mustafa Akinci (left) and Nicos Anastasiades (right).

A new phase in the efforts to reunify the Turkish and Greek sides of Cyprus is set to resume Monday. The talks are to take place in Geneva and include an envoy from the UN.

Newly appointed UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres last week called the talks "a historical occasion" following decades of previously failed negotiations. The UN special envoy to Cyprus, Espen Barth Eide, will also be presiding over the talks, as well as representatives of the EU and UN Security Council. Eide told Norway's Minister of Foreign Affairs Borge Brende on Twitter that the upcoming summit was "a crucial week" for reunification.

The UN is placing great hopes on the new round of talks. Greek Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci, who have met many times before and shared a meal in Calvino on Sunday, both spoke with Guterres on Sunday. Anastasiades said on Twitter that he was traveling to Geneva with "hope, confidence and unity for the future of Cyprus."

Akinci previously expressed "cautious optimism" heading into talks, which are scheduled to last until Wednesday. The negotiations are expected to cover six broad areas: EU-related issues, governance and division of power, land and economic issues, territory, and security. 

A previous UN-supported discussion round in 2004 failed after Greek Cypriots, who did not trust Turkey at the time, refused to back down from demands calling for tens of thousands of Turkish troops to be removed from the Turkish-majority area of the island which declared itself the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus in 1983. The breakaway entity, however, is only recognized by Turkey.

kbd/kl (AFP, dpa, EFE)

 

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