The European Parliament President, Roberta Metsola, expressed support on Sunday for appointing a U.N. envoy to assess the feasibility of reigniting stalled discussions to reunify Cyprus, which is ethnically split. During a meeting in New York last month, Metsola relayed the sentiment of the E.U.’s legislative branch to U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, emphasizing that Europe’s integrity is compromised as long as Cyprus remains fragmented.
Metsola underscored, post-discussions with Cypriot President Nikos Christodoulides that the Cyprus issue is not just a national concern but a broader European one. She also participated in a ceremony on Sunday commemorating the 63rd anniversary of Cyprus gaining independence from British colonialism.
Christodoulides, on Sunday, informed journalists that deliberations are ongoing regarding the appointment of a U.N. representative. Reigniting the reunification discourse with the Turkish Cypriots has been a priority for his Greek Cypriot-led administration.
The reconciliation discussions have stagnated since the last peace agreement attempt in 2017 collapsed. The preceding years had also witnessed several unsuccessful rounds of U.N.-mediated talks. The urge for reunification surfaced after a 1974 Turkish incursion, a response to a coup intending to unite Cyprus with Greece.
Currently, U.N. peacekeepers oversee a demilitarized zone segregating the northern Turkish Cypriot region from the southern Greek Cypriot area. Turkey is the sole country acknowledging the Turkish Cypriot’s independence proclamation and maintains a military presence of over 35,000 soldiers in the north.
In 2004, Cyprus became an E.U. member, with only the southern region hosting the globally acknowledged government, reaping the full benefits.
Persistent division of the island has often sparked tensions in the eastern Mediterranean, especially given Turkey’s claim to a significant portion of Cyprus’ offshore economic zone known for its abundant gas deposits.
Ersin Tatar, the leader of the Turkish Cypriots, insists that a genuine peace treaty can only be achieved when the Turkish Cypriots’ statehood is recognized. He diverges from the long-established notion of Cyprus being reformed as a federation of Greek and Turkish linguistic territories. Tatar told Guterres that federation is outdated, emphasizing that agreements can only transpire via dialogues between two sovereign nations.