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Cyprus leaders face 'unique opportunity' as peace talks resume

The talks aim to resolve a decades old dispute between the Turkish and Greek Cypriot communities of the island
Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades, Turkish Cypriot President Mustafa Akinci and Special Adviser to the UN Secretary-General on Cyprus, Espen Barth Eide in Nicosia on 11 May (AFP)

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has welcomed the resumption of peace talks between the Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot administrations ahead of the resumption of negotiations on Friday. 

The relaunch of the talks was announced Monday after a meeting between newly-elected Turkish Cypriot President Mustafa Akinci and Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades on the island.

"[Ban] calls on the leaders to seize this opportunity to achieve tangible progress towards a comprehensive settlement that would clearly benefit both Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots," the UN spokesperson's office said in a statement.

Espen Eide, the UN's special adviser on Cyprus called the resumption of the negotiations "a unique opportunity, an opportunity that will be grasped."

The island has been divided into a Turkish Cypriot administration in the northern third and a Greek Cypriot one in the southern two-thirds after a 1974 military coup by Greece was followed by the intervention of Turkey as a guarantor power in Cyprus.

Attempts by the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus and the Greek Cypriot administration to find a way to settle their decades-long conflict had resumed after a two-year pause in February 2013.

However, peace talks were unilaterally suspended by the Greek Cypriot administration last October after Turkey issued an advisory on behalf of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus for seismic research off the coast of Cyprus.

Turkey now seems keen to reach an agreement however over the Cyprus issue with Turkey's EU Minister Volkan Bozkir announcing on Tuesday that the dispute will be resolved in 2015.

Bozkir added that finding a solution for the Cyprus issue is less difficult than solving the Syria and Ukraine conflicts. 

"Because its parameters are obvious, I think this problem will be solved this year," Bozkir said in Istanbul during a meeting of the Turkish Shipbuilders’ Association.

A joint declaration was made on 11 February 2014 between Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades and the president at the time of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, Dervis Eroglu, on the start of renewed negotiations. 

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