UN secretary-general on Cyprus: Don’t expect miracles

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UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres (C) speaks as Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci (L) and Greek Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades (R) listen on during a press conference following the UN-sponsored Cyprus peace talks on January 12, 2017 in Geneva. / AFP PHOTO / POOL / MARTIAL TREZZINI

As one of the most contentious issues of Turkish foreign policy, the Cyprus issue is once again being negotiated in Switzerland among stakeholders, with United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres saying on Thursday not to expect miracles on the ethnically divided island.

The main parties in the negotiations, the leaders of the Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots, Mustafa Akıncı and Nikos Anastasiadis, respectively, had submitted their proposed maps for new boundaries on the island ahead of the summit in Switzerland.

“Never before have we had an exchange of maps, or a presentation of maps, created by the delegations themselves,” said Espen Barth Eide, the UN envoy for Cyprus, which led to relatively more hopes about a possible resolution.

The Cyprus dispute has been considered a red line of Turkish foreign policy. The Turkish military had intervened on the island in 1974 to end atrocities being perpetrated against the Turkish Cypriots. The state established after Turkey’s intervention, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (KKTC), is recognized only by Turkey.

Meanwhile, deputies from the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) Ümit Özdağ and Yusuf Halaçoğlu opposed the talks in Geneva, saying that territory which belongs to the Turks Cypriots will be reduced with the proposed deal.

Halaçoğlu and Özdağ called the deal worse than the Annan plan, a previous effort to resolve the conflict on the Mediterranean island.

The nationalist deputies further claimed that during governments headed by then- Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, 18 small islands were left to Greece without any objection by Turkey.

They warned the public, saying that “small homeland Cyprus” is being lost while Turkey is busy with domestic political debates.

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