Jack Straw wrote Monday in an op-ed article for the Times of London that the international community must break “a taboo” and consider the creation of two permanent states on the divided island, the Associated Press reported. Straw was Britain's foreign minister between 2001 and 2006, and a senior Cabinet member until May.
Straw's remarks came as Turkish and Greek Cypriot leaders, Derviş Eroğlu and Dimitris Christofias, met for the latest round of reunification talks. The talks, which first began when Eroğlu's predecessor, Mehmet Ali Talat was in power in September 2008, have produced little progress so far. In an effort to advance the slow-moving talks, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will host a meeting of Eroğlu and Christofias on Nov. 18 in New York.
Quoting diplomats, the British daily Financial Times said on Monday that this meeting could be the last chance to reunite the island. Officials in the UN and leading Western governments have warned that there is a limit to how long they will back the negotiations, saying they are running out of patience with the inability of both sides to strike a deal, said the daily.
“If we don't get agreement now … then it really is ‘goodnight, nurse',” a leading diplomat involved in negotiations told the Financial Times. “There's a chance the UN will withdraw its good offices in hosting the talks. We're not going to stay here for ever, going through mindless meetings and meaningless talks.” A senior diplomat from a European Union nation warned that the peace talks ran the risk of failing completely. “This meeting is the last chance for a solution because progress so far has been pitiful,” the diplomat said. “We're approaching the point where it's time to face up to the painful consequences of failure.”
The senior EU diplomat said failure to strike a deal this year would bring a real risk that Cyprus would move to formal partition.
The stalemate in Cyprus also prevents progress in Turkey's process of accession into the EU. The 27-nation bloc, where Cyprus is represented by the Greek Cypriot government, suspended accession negotiations on eight of the 35 chapters in 2006 because of Turkey's refusal to open its ports and airports to traffic from Greek Cyprus.