European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said on Wednesday that talks between the two Cypriot sides represented the “very last chance” to reunite the island, and hoped they would succeed.
“It’s risky, but when it’s about peace you have to take risks. When it’s about peace, those that take no risks are taking the greater risk,” he told a news conference in the Maltese capital.
“I think the time has come to reunite the island. The leaders of the two communities were doing an excellent job and I hope that we will be able to conclude in a positive way the Geneva talks tomorrow,” Juncker said.
Juncker will fly to Geneva “to try to bridge the points of view of the two parties involved”.
“I took a personal interest in the reunification issue of Cyprus, I would think that without over dramatizing what is happening in Geneva that is the very last chance to see the island being composed in a normal way,” he said.
Explaining his decision to go to Geneva, while the leaders of the three guarantor powers of Britain, Turkey and Greece were hesitating, Juncker said: “When it is about peace, you have to take the plane. And I think it is the duty of the President of the European Commission to be there and to try to bridge the points of view of the two parties involved. I would not be happy with my own behaviour, if I would be far away.”
Juncker spoke on the phone earlier with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras. His attendance and that of Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and Britain’s leader Theresa May were still unlikely unless a major breakthrough was reached. Erdogan and Tsipras were due to speak.
However, CNA reported that London was positive and optimistic about the outcome of the process in Geneva but was aware of the difficulties, a member of the British delegation in Switzerland for the Thursday conference told the news agency.
Sir Alan Duncan was due to arrive Wednesday night in Geneva and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson on Thursday. Johnson’s departure from Geneva was not scheduled as “obviously this depends on progress”, the British official said. May could still go if there was a need. The British delegation in Geneva numbers 30-40 people.