1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Talks on Cyprus unification break up without agreement

November 22, 2016

The latest round of talks on ending Cyprus' 42-year-old division have reached an impasse without agreement. The island has been divided since 1974.

Zypern Fahne
Image: Getty Images/AFP/J. Ammar

Talks aimed at reunifying the Mediterranean island of Cyprus broke up after two days of meetings between Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades and his Turkish Cypriot counterpart Mustafa Akinci at Mont Pelerin on the shores of Lake Geneva in Switzerland. The two leaders had made it to the second round of talks this month after 18 months of negotiations, and had announced earlier that they were hopeful to find a solution by the end of the year.

Mustafa Akinci & Nicos Anastasiades
Hopes were high when Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci and Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades first started the round of meetingsImage: Getty Images/AFP/I. Hatzistavrou

"Despite their best efforts they have not been able to achieve the necessary further convergences on criteria for territorial adjustment that would have paved the way for the last phase of the talks," UN spokesman Aleem Siddique said in a statement.

"The two sides have decided to return to Cyprus and reflect on the way forward."

The island was divided in 1974 when Turkish troops occupied its northern third in response to a military coup seeking union with Greece. The Turkish invasion resulted in thousands of Greek and Turkish Cypriots being displaced while a resettlement program made sure the Turkish presence on the north of the island remained strong.

The division has become one of the world's longest-running political disputes.

Karte von Zypern ENGLISCH
The island of Cyprus has been divided since 1974, with the Turkish north only recognized as a political entity by Turkey

40 years in the making

Anastasiades and Akinci had met earlier in November already, to address the key issue of potential territorial readjustments. Territory has been at the heart of the talks, since any peace deal would involve a redrawing of existing boundaries, resulting in some members of both communities being ousted from their current homes.

The percentage of territory to be governed under Turkish Cypriot jurisdiction has been the main sticking point, with Akinci suggesting 29.2 percent of the island and the Greek Cypriots proposing 28 percent. Furthermore, the role of the Turkish military in protecting that territory has also caused a lot of disagreement between the two parties.

The Cypriot divide

Reaching a deal on the issue of territory would have paved the way for a final summit to bring together Greece, Turkey and Cyprus' former colonial ruler the United Kingdom to agree on how to implement security arrangements on the reunified island. Outgoing UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was hoping to leave the solution to the Cyprus conflict as part of his legacy.

However, numerous rounds of talks over the past four decades have always ended in failure.

ss/bw (AFP, AP)