Divided Cypriots strain the patience of peace-keepers: Despite UN mediation, one of the longest-running ethnic conflicts in Europe is proving as intractable as ever, writes Leonard Doyle in New York

DESPITE high hopes of a settlement and a news black-out on the participants in United Nations peace talks on Cyprus, all the signs are that one of the longest- running ethnic conflicts in Europe is proving to be as intractable as ever and that the negotiations are foundering.

As a laboratory for ending ethnic conflict, Cyprus has been a failure despite endless rounds of patient diplomacy. It has also been a costly struggle for the international community, which has spent many millions of dollars for an international peace-keeping force on the island.

Some of the troop contributors - Denmark, Canada and Austria - have wondered aloud about the wisdom of devoting scarce and expensive peace-keeping resources to the wealthy little island, when other less fortunate parts of the world are screaming for UN assistance. Britain, with its sovereign bases in Cyprus, is determined to stay, but is just as keen to see progress at the New York talks.

The omens for the latest round of talks were good when they began in New York on 15 July, with the UN Secretary-General, Boutros Boutros-Ghali, indicating that he would conduct the talks 'until they are successful'. But like so many previous false dawns in the 24-year-old conflict between the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities, it now appears that it will take more than the 'good offices' talks of the UN to persuade the leaders of each community to make concessions.

For the moment, it is Rauf Denktash, the veteran leader of the Turkish Cypriots, who is holding up the talks, by resisting UN proposals to give up large areas of territory, in return for an equal say in the administration of a new federated Cyprus. The 150,000 Turkish Cypriots control 37 per cent of the island and the UN plan calls for them to keep 29 per cent. Mr Denktash is ready to cede control of this territory, but is digging his heels in over the town of Morphu, and more importantly the prime citrus-growing region which surrounds it.

The five permanent members of the Security Council - Britain, the US, France, China and Russia - have already taken Mr Denktash aside for a warning about his unco-operative stand in the talks. Pressure has also been brought to bear on Turkey - the only country in the world to recognise the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus - to get Mr Denktash to be more flexible.

If Mr Denktash gives way on territory, the focus will then turn to George Vassiliou, the Greek Cypriot President, who has brought representatives from all political factions to New York, to be a party to any decisions.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
England's women celebrate after their 3rd place play-off win against Germany
Women's World CupFara Williams converts penalty to secure victory and bronze medals
Arts and Entertainment
Ricardo by Edward Sutcliffe, 2014
artPortraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb go on display
News
newsHillary Clinton comments on viral Humans of New York photo of gay teenager
Arts and Entertainment
The gang rape scene in the Royal Opera’s production of Gioachino Rossini’s Guillaume Tell has caused huge controversy
music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Spanish Speaking

£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - German Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Japanese Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are fluent in Japanese a...

Recruitment Genius: Graphic Designer - Immediate Start

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'