Ongoing peace talks are the “last chance” to reunify Cyprus, President Mustafa Akıncı has warned at the World Economic Forum in Davos.
Mr Akıncı was speaking on Thursday at a debate on the prospects for a settlement this year
alongside his Greek Cypriot counterpart, Nicos Anastasiades, and UN Special Envoy Espen Barth Eide. The two leaders had earlier met UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at a working lunch on the sidelines of the forum.
Opening the debate, forum founder and executive chairman Klaus Schwab commended the “courage” shown by the pair over the last eight months, commenting: “We live in a world that is fragmented/broken. There is a war in the Middle East. As we have seen, many questions are being asked concerning the future of the EU. However Cyprus is a ray of hope – which is little seen in the world.”
Mr Akıncı told the audience he and Mr Anastasiades were “working tirelessly to achieve a mutually acceptable solution, and we are aware that this is the last chance for uniting our island.”
He said a peace deal would not only benefit Cypriots, but also Turkey, Greece and the EU: “With the solution… newly found hydrocarbon resources in the eastern Mediterranean will act as a
source of peace, stability and cooperation rather than conflict and tension; a united Cyprus will be able to serve as a hub for pipelines transferring natural gas to the EU through Cyprus and Turkey, which seems to be the most feasible route, fresh water from Turkey, already brought to North Cyprus, can be shared by all inhabitants of the island; and interconnectivity of electricity networks between the EU and the Middle East will become a reality, via Cyprus
and Turkey, which again seems to be the most efficient way.
“All of this can only be possible if Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots see each other as future partners and concentrate on the goal to create a united Cyprus where peace and prosperity will prevail and the future generations will not have to face the strife and uncertainties of the past.”
Mr Akıncı added that the leaders were aware of Cypriots’ leading role in “turn[ing] this into a reality so that it also serves as a beacon of hope to other ongoing conflicts”, but needed “strong, collective, international support… in terms of technical and financial assistance”.
Mr Anastasiades concurred, saying: “In our neighbourhood we are witnessing many clashes and enormous bloodshed. Both of us agree… we are working tirelessly to find a solution and model of how peaceful coexistence between Christians and Muslims could be.”
However he declined to give a detailed timeframe for peace, adding that “there are still difficult differences to resolve, notably around the return of property and compensation”.
In a statement after their lunch Mr Ban “commended” Mr Akıncı Mr Anastasiades “for their efforts and leadership” and called on the international community to support them, adding: “Significant progress has been made in this leader-led process over the past eight months, demonstrating that with political will, it is possible to reach an understanding on all issues,”
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu held his own press conference in Davos on Thursday, at which he said it was “time to move the process to the phase which involves the guarantor states”.
He hailed “positive developments” in the Cyprus peace process for which former UN chief Kofi Annan had laid the groundwork at Davos in 2004.