UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon does not give the impression of being a man of decisive action but there are obviously some issues on which he feels it necessary to say “enough is enough”. One of these, understandably, is Cyprus where a UN peacekeeping force has been stationed since 1964 and UN negotiators have been trying for decades to bring the Greek and Turkish Cypriots together in a single federal state. Mr Ban has called a conference in New York later this month at which he will insist that some form of agreement between the two sides must be reached soon; in its absence the island might have to be formally divided into two states. The difficulties are well-known: in 1974 during a period of near-anarchy Turkey invaded the island to protect its people and occupied two-fifths of the island. The Greek community wants access to properties in the Turkish sector but the Turkish negotiators offer financial compensation instead. Some 90 negotiating sessions have been held over recent years with no result.

The stalemate has wider consequences. The Greek part of the island is recognised internationally and as a member of the European Union while the “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus” is recognised only by Turkey. Opponents of Turkey's membership of the European Union point to Ankara's support for the 1974 invasion and to the continuing occupation by Turks of almost half of the island. The prospects for a solution are not good.


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