World Bulletin / News Desk
Turkish Cypriot President Mustafa Akinci and Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades met for several days of closed-door meetings in Switzerland under the auspices of the UN’s Cyprus envoy, Espen Barth Eide.
The first day of negotiations will concentrate on issues including governance, property and security according to a Turkish Cypriot official.
In remarks made before his departure for Geneva, Akinci told reporters that the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus would continue on its own way if a solution was not reached.
Last week, Akinci urged all parties to work with responsibility to find a settlement.
Reunification talks will be followed by a conference on Thursday. The Turkish and Greek Cypriot leaders will be joined by the three other states involved in the process -- guarantor countries Turkey, Greece, and the U.K.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan discussed the Geneva talks with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and British Prime Minister Theresa May on Saturday. They agreed the upcoming negotiations could be an important opportunity in reaching a final settlement.
Reunification talks resumed in May 2015; both sides have repeatedly expressed optimism that a solution could be found.
Once a final agreement is reached, it would be put to both Cypriot communities in a referendum.
Akinci has said a reunification vote could be held in mid-2017 pending agreement in Geneva.
The issue of territory is one of the most intractable on the agenda.
Although both sides were believed to be close to agreement on the amount of territory to be run by the Turkish Cypriot government, there are still disputes over which administration will run certain towns and villages.
Any agreement will mean redrawing existing boundaries and potentially moving thousands of residents from their homes, 42 years after many were displaced when the island was first divided.
The Turkish Cypriot side wants to keep 29.2 percent of the island’s territory.