NICOSIA, Cyprus – Cyprus’ president said Wednesday he would submit new proposals to overcome an impasse that he says has prevented progress during eight days of high-level talks to reunify the ethnically divided island.
President Nicos Anastasides, a Greek Cypriot, told reporters before another session of the ongoing talks in Switzerland that he expects the Turkish and Turkish Cypriot participants to “demonstrate the same good will” to break the stalemate.
“We need to approach unfolding developments with all due seriousness so that we can finally see a ray of hope,” he said.
Anastasides was presenting his latest package to Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci on Wednesday night, ahead of the arrival at the negotiations Thursday of U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
Guterres’ personal touch during an appearance last week helped identify key sticking points and offered a road map for working through them.
It’s hoped he can get the parties to agree on a framework agreement. The details would be worked out in the coming weeks before a finalized accord ending the east Mediterranean island’s 43-year division is put to the island’s Greek and Turkish communities for a vote.
Cyprus’ ‘guarantors’ — Greece, Turkey and former colonial ruler Britain are participating in the talks. Their views are considered crucial to post-reunification security arrangements in an envisioned federal Cyprus. The European Union is participating as an observer.
Guterres’ spokesman Stephane Dujarric said the U.N. chief felt that it was a “good time for him to return to the talks.”
A linchpin to a deal remains the future of the more than 35,000 troops that Turkey has kept in the island’s breakaway Turkish Cypriot north since 1974, when it invaded following a coup mounted by supporters of uniting Cyprus with Greece.
Greek Cypriots perceive the Turkish soldiers as a threat and want them all gone. The island’s minority Turkish Cypriots want them to stay as their protectors. Turkey’s foreign minister said this week that a full troop withdrawal was out of the question.
Anastasides appealed to his fellow Greek Cypriots to “turn a deaf ear” to both suggestions that he has made significant concessions and to “over-optimistic” assertions that the talks are on the cusp of a breakthrough.