UN chief Antonio Guterres arrived in Switzerland for Cyprus talks

Vastavam web: UN chief Antonio Guterres arrived in Switzerland today in an apparent bid to unblock stalled talks on ending the decades-old conflict on Cyprus. The secretary general arrived in Crans-Montana shortly after 9:00 am to rejoin the talks, which have been going on in the Swiss Alpine resort for more than a week, the UN said. President Nicos Anastasiades, the Greek-Cypriot leader, and his Turkish-Cypriot counterpart Mustafa Akinci had asked Guterres to return to the table, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Wednesday.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and later occupied its northern third in response to an Athens-inspired putsch seeking union with Greece. Guterres spent a day at the talks last Friday, hailing them as “a historic opportunity to reach a comprehensive settlement.” But the negotiations have run into hurdles over security guarantees and the withdrawal of Turkish troops.But Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias acknowledged to reporters in Crans-Montana Wednesday that “we have not made enough progress.”

“A lot of time has been wasted and that is why the prime ministers are not coming,” he was quoted by Greek media as saying. Kotzias, who earlier in the week demonstrated the souring tone at the talks when he called for the withdrawal of Turkey’s “occupying troops”, said he hoped the negotiations would with Guterres’s help move forward on such “substantive” issues.Several previous peace drives have stumbled over the issue, with Greek Cypriots demanding a total withdrawal of what they say is an occupying force and minority Turkish- speakers fearful of ethnic violence in the event of a pullout. A diplomatic source told AFP before the talks began that Ankara was prepared to slash its troop numbers by as much as 80 per cent, but Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu flatly denied that any such withdrawal was planned.