World Bulletin / News Desk
The UN mediator on Cyprus, seeking to end a four-decade diplomatic deadlock, said Greek and Turkish sides now had strong economic reasons to agree a reunification that could help ease debt problems and speed exploitation of disputed gas fields.
"Both Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots have economic difficulties," Alexander Downer, special advisor on Cyprus to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, said.
"It is a good opportunity to remind people that a solution to the Cyprus problem will be economically very beneficial and it will certainly be well received by the international community," he told Reuters in an interview.
Greek Cypriots were forced to seek aid from the International Monetary Fund and the European Union in June to prop up their banks, badly exposed to debt-crippled Greece.
Turkish Cypriots living north of a buffer zone splitting the island's two main populations are economically and politically isolated, relying on financial handouts from Ankara.
Cyprus was split in a 1974 Turkish military intervention triggered by a brief Greek Cypriot coup instigated by the military then ruling Greece.
The conflict has come into sharper focus with natural gas discoveries in the eastern Mediterranean. Greek Cypriots reported their first major discovery in December 2011, while Turkey launched an on-shore drill in northern Cyprus in April .
Greek Cyprus, an EU member now holding the rotating presidency of the bloc, has, like every other EU country, veto rights over Turkey's bid to join the EU.
"It's peaceful, but everyone knows this is temporary, and everyone knows there needs to be a solution which is permanent," said Downer, whose office is in a sprawling UN compound which was once Nicosia's international airport, scene of some of the fiercest fighting in 1974.
The bullet-riddled shell of a Greek Cyprus Airways aircraft squats on a runway overgrown with weeds, testament to the violence.
"It (reunification) would reduce the sovereign risk of investing in Cyprus, clear up the problems of investing in property, grow GDP and offer capacity to service and pay off debt," Downer said.
"It would be an economic boon to Cyprus just when it needs one. There's gas, but that is years off until that is sold."
Four years ago, the United Nations launched a new round of talks, the latest of many peace efforts. Downer is still cautiously optimistic about cracking a deal and succeeding where dozens before him failed.
"It is hard," said Downer, a former Australian foreign minister. "There have been efforts made for 38 years to solve the Cyprus problem. A lot has been achieved, there are a lot of convergences, there is a basic plan, but the deal hasn't been done."
Greek and Turkish Cypriots agree in principle on reuniting the island as a federation, but differ on how it would work. Differences remain on core issues ranging from how Cyprus is to be co-governed to property claims from thousands of internally displaced people.
Direct talks between the leaders of the Greek and the Turkish Cypriots have been on hold for several months, partly because of a Greek Cypriot poll in 2013 to elect a new president.
The United Nations has also backed off from plans to call a multilateral conference because of Greek Cypriot objections about the timing.
"The risk of failure and of total collapse was way too high, and it would have been reckless for us to have called a multilateral conference, and that was the advice I gave the secretary-general," Downer said.
Downer said the time between now and the election next February was focused on talks with technocrats between the two sides. "In terms of negotiations on the substantial issues, we will get them under way once a new president has been elected."
An Indonesian air force spokesman said all passengers were unharmed and being taken off the aircraft at Denpasar, in Bali.
History plays a big part, especially in eastern Germany where criticism of NATO is harsher and where feelings are stronger that the West must reach an understanding with Russia.
Dressed all in white, he was flanked by his top aide, Amit Shah, who was briefly banned from campaigning over inflammatory comments against Muslims he made this month
Interior minister Avakov dismissed talk that Kiev suspended its "anti-terrorist operation" (ATO) in the face of threats from Moscow
Hamid Mir issues his first statement days after being shot six times by assailants in Karachi.
Fears mount that the country's lengthy political crisis could move into a more violent phase.
Peace talks between the FARC guerrillas and Colombia government enter 24th round but rumors of military force reductions take the focus off the established agenda.
A senior official admits there’s a problem even after Argentina’s president downplays the concerns.
Obama and Abe had ordered their top aides to make a final push to reach a trade agreement after the leaders met
Interfax news agency quoted witnesses as saying a bomb was thrown at the checkpoint from a passing car, though this was not confirmed by police
As a conference on global Internet governance concludes in Sao Paulo, President Dilma Rousseff is praised for Brazil's new Internet bill and says the government will not insist on Internet companies having data centers in the country.
A record 7210 police cadets joined Kenya's nearly 35,000 police force in April.
Two former U.S. soldiers testified at the pre-trial hearing of a one-time comrade charged with killing two unarmed Iraqi boys
U.S. officials have grown increasingly impatient with what they describe as Russia's failure to live up to its commitments in an April 17 agreement reached in Geneva to try to de-escalate the crisis
Congress will need to approve the move before it goes through.
The pictures, flowers and spaces are banked up the entire wall of a gymnasium near Danwon High School in Ansan, on the outskirts of Seoul.