UN-led Cyprus talks loom large in Turkey-EU ties: EU foreign policy chief

Bloc to push for more UN-led Cyprus talks in hope of settling decades-long conflict, says Josep Borrell.

UN-led Cyprus talks loom large in Turkey-EU ties: EU foreign policy chief

UN-led talks on Cyprus present a good chance to resolve the conflict and could also have a big effect on Turkish-EU relations, the bloc’s foreign policy chief said on Monday.

“We will follow attentively the situation in Cyprus, and try to push for the continuation of the negotiations we started in Geneva (this April),” Josep Borrell told reporters after a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Luxembourg, calling the process “a good occasion to try to look for a solution to the Cyprus settlement.”

He explained that the bloc’s relationship with Turkey is “very much influenced by the Cyprus issue” and so he doesn’t expect EU leaders to discuss in detail or take decisions on ties with Turkey at their summit starting on Thursday.

EU leaders will focus more on the bloc’s relations with Russia, Borrell added.

Borrell also said that he had told EU foreign ministers about his latest talks with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu in Antalya, Turkey, at the weekend Antalya Diplomacy Forum.

Borrell and Cavusoglu have been in close contact over the past year in order to redefine the EU-Turkey relationship based on mutual interests.

Cyprus settlement

Separately, Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) President Ersin Tatar on Monday called on the international community to grant equal international status and sovereign equality for Turkish Cypriots.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres convened a new round of Cyprus talks in April, bringing together the leaders of the TRNC government, the Greek Cypriot administration, and top diplomats from the island’s guarantor countries – Turkey, Greece, and the UK.

Cyprus has been mired in a decades-long struggle between the Greek and Turkish Cypriots, despite a series of diplomatic efforts by the UN to achieve a comprehensive settlement.

The island has been divided since 1964, when ethnic attacks forced Turkish Cypriots to withdraw into enclaves for their safety. In 1974, a Greek Cypriot coup aiming at Greece’s annexation led to Turkey’s military intervention as a guarantor power. The TRNC was founded in 1983.

The Greek Cypriot administration, backed by Greece, became a member of the EU in 2004, although most Greek Cypriots that year rejected a UN settlement plan in a referendum envisaging a reunited Cyprus joining the European Union.