The ever-elusive Cyprus settlement

 

“Cyprus: Re-unification, at last?” was the question considered by a CEPS panel debate on 21 November 2016 – just as a make-or-break meeting between the leaders of the Greek and Turkish communities on the divided island was getting underway. There was a sense of ‘now or never’ at the event. But sadly, at the end of the day, the settlement talks between Nikos Anastasiades (President of the Republic of Cyprus and leader of the Greek Cypriots) and Mustafa Akıncı (leader of the Turkish Cypriots) failed to produce an agreement. Both panellists and members of the audience noted how previous attempts at a settlement – most notably the Annan Plan of 2004 – also dashed the hopes placed in them. James Ker-Lindsay, Visiting Senior Research Fellow at the London School of Economics, described the background to the current situation and gave an overview of the contentious issues that make up the substance of the reunification talks, including what appear to be the main sticking points in this latest round: territory, property and security. Makarios Drousiotis, a former adviser to Anastasiades who now works for Christos Stylianides, European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, ran through the history of Soviet and Russian involvement with the Greek Cypriots, stressing that this involvement had never been good for Cyprus or its Greek community. The speakers largely agreed in their assessment of Russia’s role in this process – it was a spoiler. “Russia is not just not helping a solution, but actively working against it” said Ker-Lindsay. Turkey, by contrast, was presented as far less of a problem, even under the authoritarian leadership of President Erdoğan.