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Immediately after the opening of the intercommunal talks, under the auspices of the UN Secretary General, in February 1975, the Turkish side proceeded to the unilateral declaration of a “federal Turkish state”, which was condemned by UN Security Council Resolution 367 (1975). Moreover, the Turkish side violated the August 1975 intercommunal agreement concluded in Vienna, under which it undertook the obligation to ensure that the approximately 25,000 Greek Cypriots who then remained in the occupied section of Cyprus would be given “every help to lead a normal life”. Finally, the Turkish side backed out of commitments it had repeatedly made to submit specific proposals on the key territorial aspects of the problem.
In 1977 and 1979, the intercommunal talks under the auspices of the UN led to two High-Level Agreements that set as a goal the achievement of a federal solution, within the framework of the single sovereignty of the Cypriot state, respect for the fundamental freedoms and rights of all citizens, and the demilitarization of the island. The 1979 Agreement provided, additionally, for priority being given to an agreement on the resettlement of refugees at Varosha, under the auspices of the UN, and for this agreement’s being implemented regardless of the progress of the negotiations for a comprehensive settlement of the problem. In August 1980, the UN Secretary General’s spokesperson at the time stated that the two sides reiterated their support for a federal solution that should be bicommunal as regards the constitutional aspects and bizonal as regards the territorial aspects.
In November 1983, in the midst of yet another initiative on the part of the UN Secretary General, the Turkish side declared the occupied territories of Cyprus and “independent state”, which to date has been recognized only by Turkey. UN Security Council Resolutions 541 (1983) and 550 (1984) condemned the unilateral declaration and all of the further secessionist actions, which they characterized as illegal and invalid; asked for the immediate withdrawal of the Turkish forces; called on all states not to recognize the purported state that was created by the secessionist actions and not to facilitate or in any way assist the secessionist entity; condemned the Turkish threats for a settlement of Varosha and called for the transfer of the administration of that area to the administration of the United Nations.
From 1984 to 1992, the United Nations undertook a series of initiatives for achieving an agreed negotiating framework for a comprehensive settlement. The most important of these was Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali’s “Set of Ideas”, which was adopted by the Security Council as a basis for further negotiations. The latter proved impossible, due to the Turkish side’s intransigence, which was criticized by Security Council Resolution 789 (1982).
From 1999 to 2004, the international community mounted a new effort to achieve a comprehensive solution to the Cyprus problem, in view of the imminent accession of Cyprus to the EU and opening of Turkey’s accession negotiations with the EU. In November 2002, the UN Secretary General submitted his comprehensive settlement plan for Cyprus. Four revised versions of the plan followed. The final version (Annan Plan 5) – which was the result of the UN Secretary General’s arbitration, and which did not lead to an agreement – was put to separate referenda, in which it was rejected by 75.83% of Greek Cypriots. In accordance with the provisions of the New York agreement of 13 February 2004, the submitted plan was rendered void and produced no legal effect.
Despite the rejection of the specific plan, the Cypriot government and a clear majority of Greek Cypriot political forces remained committed to the goal of the reunification of the island within the framework of the UN Security Council resolutions and the principles and values of the EU. The Greek Cypriot side undertook a series of initiatives that led to a broader international understanding and acceptance of its stance: that the method of artificial timeframes and of arbitration had proven counterproductive with regard to finding an agreed solution to the Cyprus problem.
New comprehensive negotiations began, eventually as a result of initiatives taken by President Christofias (in office 2008-2013), in September 2008. These negotiations essentially froze at the end of March 2012, with Turkish leader Mr. Ergolu’s decision to stop attending the direct talks.
Direct talks began anew, some two years later, between Cypriot President Anastasiades and Mr. Eroglu, with the their first official meeting, and agreement on the text of their Joint Communiqué, on 11 February 2014.
April 15 saw the completion of the first phase of the new talks – exploration of the positions of either side – and on 23 the second phase was completed with an exchange of written proposals on all of the negotiation chapters.
Despite the divergence of views on issues of both substance and procedure, during their first meeting with the UN Secretary General’s newly appointed (25 August 2014) Special Adviser, Espen Barth Eide, on 17 September, President Anastasiades and Mr. Eroglu agreed to move ahead to a next phase of “structured talks”.
Unfortunately, this was not possible, due to the new flagrant violations by Turkey, starting on 20 October 2014, of the Republic of Cyprus’s sovereign rights in its Exclusive Economic Zone.