Hills speckled with the white blossom of almond trees heave around me. The road ahead winds down towards a 500-year-old monastery – apart from which there’s hardly a building in sight. Verdant and tranquil, it’s a scene that epitomises Cyprus’s rural heart.
I’m near the tiny inland village of Vavla, south Cyprus, which couldn’t be more different from the coastal city of Larnaca where I landed earlier this morning. There, making a beeline for the coast in the hope of dramatic Mediterranean seaviews, I was instead confronted by rows of hotels marching along the shore, just like any other built-up beach town.
And yet Cyprus isn’t your average sun-and-sea destination right now. The island is on the verge of making history. Greek and Turkish Cypriot leaders are in Switzerland for landmark talks on reunification (Cyprus has been split since 1974, when a Greek-linked coup sparked Turkish military intervention). In the hopes of a deal being close, UN Secretary General António Guterres flew in on Friday, joining the likes of Boris Johnson representing the UK as guarantor power.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is attending Cyprus peace talks in Switzerland in an effort to bridge differences between the rival sides.