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UN chief hopes for Cyprus deal before 2017 were dashed but new year might see one

December 31, 2016 - CYPRUS

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon saw the possibility of a deal to reunify Cyprus before he leaves office at the end of 2016, but the talks collapsed on Nov 22. They will resume in 2017, so his successor inherits the possibility of the deal.

The island has been split since Turkish troops invaded in 1974, following an Athens-inspired coup by Greek Cypriots seeking union with Greece. The northern third of the country is controlled by Turkish Cypriots and the southern two-thirds by Greek Cypriots.

Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci and Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades have been meeting for UN sponsored talks. The matter of land transfers to address the claims of Cypriots who fled their homes in 1974 remains a stumbling block, and were a major reason for the collapse of the talks. Some two weeks later, they agreed to try again in January to reach agreement.

The BBC reports that the catalyst for the latest negotiations was the April election in the north. Akinci campaigned on a promise to broker a peace deal with the south. His negotiations with Anastasiades began the following month. Both sides have economic incentive to broker a deal, which would remove a major obstacle in Turkey's bid to join the European Union.

UN troops patrol the Green Line, the buffer zone cutting across the island.

Cyprus leaders seek deal to end conflict in new Swiss talks (BBC 7 Nov 2016)

Cyprus Country Profile (BBC 23 Feb 2016)

Date written/update: 2016-12-02