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Cypriot president asks Germany for help with Turkey over divide

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Cypriot President Nikos Christodoulides on Monday asked Berlin for help in efforts to overcome the island’s division, since Germany has better relations with fellow NATO member Turkey.

“Our message is that the solution lies in Ankara,” Christodoulides said in a statement following a meeting with German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier in Nicosia on Monday.

“It is high time to work with renewed courage on a solution to the Cyprus question,” Steinmeier said. Germany supports a bi-zonal, bi-communal solution to the Cyprus problem based on UN parameters, he said. Nicosia is the last divided capital of Europe.

The island has been split into a Greek-Cypriot south and a smaller Turkish-Cypriot north since a Greek coup and a Turkish military intervention in 1974. Only Turkey recognizes Northern Cyprus as a full state.

The buffer zone between the two sides is monitored by UN peacekeepers.

While the whole of Cyprus became a member of the European Union in 2004, EU law is only valid in the southern part until a possible reunification.

UN-backed efforts aimed at ending Cyprus’s decades-old conflict have taken place on-and-off for years with little progress to show.

Christodoulides said he was pleased that the UN had appointed a new special envoy of the UN secretary general, former Colombian foreign minister María Angela Holguín Cuéllar, to initiate talks on overcoming the division, which had been stagnating since 2017.

“We in Germany, at least, are available to support the UN-led negotiation process and to promote confidence-building measures,” said Steinmeier.

The German government recently announced it would support the UN mission on the island by sending up to 15 police officers to help monitor the 180-kilometre buffer zone.

Apart from the Cyprus issue, the two talked about migration. In terms of population size, Cyprus has received the most asylum applications in the European Union in recent years. Christodoulides thanked Steinmeier for Germany’s acceptance of about 1,000 migrants from Cyprus last year.

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