Over 40 years of conflict, disagreements and worldwide publicity and yet Cyprus still remains a divided country. The country was invaded by Turkish military in 1974 as has been occupied ever since. The occupation displaced thousands of Cypriots, leaving homes abandoned and possessions discarded.
There is, however renewed optimism amongst EU officials and diplomats that now may be the time for discussions to reconvene and progress to be made. A fresh start of talks are beginning with the aim of unravelling one of Europe’s most complex and politically conflicting problems. This renewed sense of optimism follows talks earlier in the year regarding the billions of pounds of property that was left unclaimed after the invasion. With some of these disputes being resolved it is hoped that discussions can now continue in a positive manner to come to an agreement over the bigger and more perplexing issue of the division of the Island.
Many of the questions that remain unanswered are around any possible reunification of the island and how power would be employed in such an instance. There are currently around 35,000 Turkish troops stationed in the once predominantly Greek town of Varosha. Many Greek Cypriots wish to see the troops leave the island completely before any progress talks can be made.
The Turkish president has made recent statements implying that reunification of the Island is a possibility. He has said that such a movement would ‘contribute to the region’s security, stability and prosperity’. This is a major step forward in what has been a frozen debate for many years and with UN General Assembly talks planned for September there is a real hope that negotiations will be positive.
There is however a long road yet ahead. Talks would need to reach an international level, which could happen in 2017 if progression continues. Agreement between the two sides would need to be ratified and compensations awarded in relation to the properties that were lost many years ago.
A vote on reunification in 2004 was overwhelmingly rejected by the Greek electorate and more than ten years on there are those that believe a resolution will never be reached. We can however remain hopeful that the EU will want to push forward with these talks at a time where it is desperately trying to avoid any form of further break up within the European union.