The U.N. envoy for Cyprus warns that an “international crisis” over oil-and-gas drilling could cause the reunification talks to collapse.
“To see that go to waste because of an international crisis would be very sad for all of us,” Espen Barth Eide said Thursday in Nicosia. “We may be looking forward to rather dramatic times.”
Turkey has demanded the Greek Cypriot government suspend its search for oil and gas in the Mediterranean until there is a power-sharing deal with the Turkish Cypriots.
Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades said Thursday that Turkey’s “threats” will not work. He accused Turkey of trying to wreck the peace talks.
Eide called on all parties to do their “utmost to reduce any kind of tension that can make the talks problematic.”
Cyprus has been split between a Greek Cypriot south and Turkish Cypriot north since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded after a military coup it says was aimed at unifying the island with Greece.
Only Turkey recognizes Turkish Cypriot independence, and has tens of thousands of troops stationed there.
Past U.N. efforts at reunifying Cyprus have failed. But the current round of talks that started in 2015 brought both sides closer than ever, despite tough negotiations on several questions including property rights and security issues.