The first attempts to resume peaceful resolution of the conflict between the Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots since the fall through of the last peace deal in 2017, has failed yet again. The UN has reported its dismay with the failure to heal the rift between the two groups at its most recent meeting In Geneva. A spokesman for the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, Stephane Dujarric, has reported that the purpose of the meeting was to “determine whether common grounds exist for the parties to negotiate a last solution to the problem in Cyprus within a foreseeable horizon.”
The long ongoing conflict in Cyprus began in 1974 when Turkey occupied the northern third region of the Island following a military coup. Cyprus was settled by Greece and then transitioned to Ottoman rule before gaining its independence in 1960. The Turkish minority was left with an unjust amount of power resulting in divides between the country. Today, Northern Cyprus is occupied by Turkish Cypriots and the south by Greek Cypriots. The Turkish troops who still occupy 36 percent of the island’s whole territory, justify their actions through the legal basis of ‘The Treaty of Guarantee,’ which labelled the right for Turkey to protect its Turkish Cypriots. However, Greek Cypriots with support from the UN, argue that this was an illegal use of force and that there is no adequate justification for the measure of Turkish occupation.
The division of Cyprus originally displaced an estimated 180,000 Greek Cypriots, who fled to escape Turkish occupation. According to Greek Cypriot authorities, the conflict has left 1,400 people missing as well as the death of 3,000 civilians. The intrastate conflict between the two groups has resulted in a permanent UN buffer zone that runs through the capital of Nicosia. In 1964, The United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus was established to prevent further fighting between the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities. The mission is one of The United States’ longest peacekeeping issues; The UN ultimately desires to restore full peace in the country.
The utmost issue in Cyprus today, is that there is no common ground or effort from either group to meet in the middle and make peace. The Turkish Cypriot breakaway state is only recognized by Turkey, whereas The Republic of Cyprus led by Greek Cypriots is internationally recognized. The informal meeting held between the two rival parties as well as Britain, Turkey, Greece, and The United Nations, was held to explore options to create peace and heal the rift between the two parties. Gutterres’ mandate given to him by the UN Security Council was to find the possibility to initiate a federal system for a reunified Cyprus. However, there was an inability for any result or decision to come out of the meeting with the two groups holding conflicting views.
The Turkish Republic has reported to officials that no one should expect them to be patched onto a unitary state and that they are “only negotiating for a two-state deal.” On the other hand, Greek Cypriots wanted to see a “bi-communal federation with political equality” stated Guterres. Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades has also stated that Turkish proposals for a two-state solution, was a clear violation of the UN resolutions.
This inability to find common ground is a disappointment for the UN and the people of Cyprus who have lived in constant conflict for almost 40 years. The civilians of Cyprus have been demonstrating their desires to end the conflict, taking to the streets holding signs and chanting “Cyprus belongs to its people.” However, UN Secretary-General Guterres is remaining positive, and has stated that even though they did not reach agreements at the recent peace talks, “we will not give up.”