UN envoy says Cypriots must ‘stand up for change’

LEFKOSA, Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus

Outgoing UN envoy to Cyprus, Espen Barth Eide, on Thursday said civil society groups on the divided island should be included in future reunification talks.

"If people want change, they need to stand up for change, Eide told reporters following a meeting with Turkish Cypriot President Mustafa Akinci.

Eide, who has been the UN's envoy on the Cyprus issue for over two years, said Cypriots had left the peace process in the hands of their leaders.

If a new opportunity arises for talks, a wider part of society must be included in the process, Eide said, adding this was a lesson to be drawn from the recent failed negotiations in Switzerland.

"You have to stand up for change, you cannot sit and wait for others to change for you," the envoy said.

The eastern Mediterranean island was divided into a Turkish Cypriot state in the north and a Greek Cypriot administration in the south after a 1974 military coup was followed by Turkey's intervention as a guarantor power.

There has been an on-and-off peace process over recent years, with the latest initiative in Switzerland under the auspices of guarantor countries Turkey, Greece and the U.K., collapsing last month.

Turkey has blamed Greek Cypriot intransigence for the latest talks' failure and also faulted the European Union for admitting Cyprus as a divided island into the union in 2004, after Greek Cyprus rejected a peace deal.

Source: Anadolu Agency