The two leaders in divided Cyprus are set to meet in Nicosia later on Tuesday to carry on with UN-brokered Cyprus peace talks ahead of the crucial international Cyprus conference in Geneva next month.
Tuesday’s meeting between President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci under the guidance of UN envoy Espen Barth Eide is their first since a UN-hosted dinner in Nicosia on December 1.
That’s when they decided to immediately restart negotiations suspended in November after hitting a roadblock in Mont Pelerin, Switzerland.
The two leaders had failed to settle on an exchange of territory between their communities in a reunited federal Cyprus.
Another stinging point is the insistence by Turkey – a guarantor power along with Greece and Britain – to withdraw its estimated 35,000 thousand troops stationed in the breakaway north since Ankara’s 1974 invasion.
Ankara insists to maintain some sort of a guarantor role in a reunited island – unlike Greece and Britain – both of which have made clear that a reunited EU-member Cyprus needs no guarantees from third parties.
Nonetheless, the prospects for a deal over the island’s four decades of division have risen after Greece, Turkey and Britain were invited to join the negotiations next month in Geneva.
Despite significant progress on new political arrangements, the two leaders are also divided over proposals for a rotating presidency for the unified island.