Cypriot leaders agree UN dinner date

Cypriot leaders agree UN dinner date

Leaders of the two sides of the divided Cyprus will meet for dinner in April in an effort by the United Nations to reignite a stalled peace process to reunify the divided island, the U.N. said on March 30.

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It will be the first meeting between Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akıncı since U.N.-backed peace talks collapsed in acrimony at a Swiss summit in July.

A U.N. statement said the leaders will hold an “informal” meeting on April 16 inside the U.N.-controlled buffer zone in Nicosia at the defunct airport.

“The Deputy Special Advisor of the Secretary-General on Cyprus, Elizabeth Spehar, has been in contact with the Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades and the Turkish Cypriot leader, Mr Mustafa Akıncı,” the statement said.

“Both leaders have agreed to an informal meeting hosted by Spehar at the Chief of Mission’s residence in the buffer zone on 16 April,” it added.

The U.N. is hoping dinner diplomacy can push-start stalled Cyprus reunification talks to iron out differences between the two sides.

The social gathering is not expected to lead to a resumption of talks but it may shine a path towards that end by breaking the ice.

The island has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops intervened in response to a coup sponsored by the military junta then ruling Greece.

Since peace talks came to a gridlock, tensions in the region have heightened following Nicosia’s search for natural gas reserves which is opposed by Turkey.

The dispute over resources in the Mediterranean is another complicating factor in efforts to reunify the island after negotiations on the 44-year feud collapsed last year.

Anastasiades has said reunification talks cannot resume while Turkey is trying to block the Greek Cyprus’ unilateral energy development strategy.

He has accused Turkey of “gun-boat diplomacy” for blocking energy exploration off its coast in February.

Last week the EU condemned Turkey’s actions in the eastern Mediterranean and told it to cease such actions against member state Greek Cyprus.

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