Cyprus future in the balance at new peace talks

Rival Cypriot leaders resume UN-brokered peace talks in Geneva on Monday billed as a historic opportunity to end decades of conflict on the divided island, but the outcome is far from certain.

Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci, who have negotiated for more than 18 months in the run-up to the talks, have been among the most outspoken proponents of a deal.

But both acknowledge key issues still need to be thrashed out, with the prospects of solving one of the world’s longest-running geopolitical disputes remaining murky.

The United Nations has pulled out all the stops in its bid for a deal, eyeing the best chance of a settlement in more than a decade.

“It is a real possibility that 2017 will be the year when the Cypriots, themselves, freely decide to turn the page of history,” said UN envoy Espen Barth Eide, who will receive the two leaders from around 8.45 am (0745 GMT).

On the eve of the talks, Greek and Turkish residents gathered in Nicosia to hear musicians from both sides perform at a “Countdown to Peace” concert, with the setlist including The Beatles’ “Come Together”.

“We are ready. So we send a message to our leaders, to the whole world, that we, the people of this island, we can live together,” said Marilena Evangelou, chief editor of the online edition of Politis, one of several media outlets that organised the concert.

But some experts believe the Geneva talks are a disaster waiting to happen because of deep divisions on core issues such as property, territorial adjustments and security.