In Depth

Cyprus talks on reunification collapse

After more than 40 years of division, with the Mediterranean island ever be one again?

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Talks to reunify the divided island of Cyprus collapsed this morning after a tumultuous final session reportedly marred by yelling and drama.

Antonio Guterres, the UN secretary-general, told a news conference: "I'm very sorry to tell you that despite the very strong commitment and engagement of all the delegations and different parties... the conference on Cyprus was closed without an agreement being reached." 

Guterres hoped to reunite the island under Greek-Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and Mustafa Akıncı, the Turkish-Cypriot leader. He insisted that "other initiatives" could be developed.

Diplomats said Turkey had appeared to be offering little to Greek-Cypriots wanting a full withdrawal of Turkish troops from the island, although they had indicated readiness to make concessions on Turkish-Cypriot demands for a rotating presidency, the other key issue.

Why is Cyprus divided?

Sectarian conflict erupted after the island gained independence from Britain in 1960, culminating in Turkey's invasion of the northern part of the island in 1974 and subsequent declaration of an independent breakaway state. 

For more than 40 years, UN troops have patrolled a buffer zone separating Cyprus, an EU member state, from its unrecognised northern third.

The status of the Greek-Cypriots displaced by the invasion and of their abandoned properties was the leading issue in the discussions, along with the future of the 30,000 Turkish troops still stationed there.

"The Greek side insists they must all be pulled out, while the Turkish side says some must remain," says Reuters

Will Cyprus ever be unified?

"Relations between Greek and Turkish Cypriots have warmed" in recent years, says Foreign Affairs, but hopes of reunification may have been "misplaced".

The rise of nationalist politics in Turkey, as well as tensions with the EU over Syria and the refugee crisis, mean neither Ankara not Athens is especially disposed to compromise.

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