Cyprus president urges Turkey to help reunification talks

Cyprus president urges Turkey to help reunification talks

Kerry Wise
November 10, 2016

Rival leaders of Cyprus have started a fresh round of talks aimed at reunifying the ethnically-divided Mediterranean resort island and bringing a four-decade dispute there to an end. Officials say if Greek Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and Mustafa Akinci, the leader of the breakaway Turkish Cypriots, make some kind of breakthrough it could be the precursor to a final summit bringing an end to the tiny island's 42-year-old division.

A deal to unify Cyprus is within reach, United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon said Monday as he opened talks aimed at resolving one of the world's longest running political crises.

A Turkish invasion in 1974 in the wake of a coup aiming at union with Greece split the tiny, east Mediterranean island of roughly a million people into a breakaway Turkish Cypriot north and an internationally recognized south.

The last major peace push ended in 2004 when a proposal worked out by then-UN Secretary General Kofi Annan was accepted by most Turkish Cypriots but resoundingly dismissed by Greek Cypriots.

The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus - which is only recognized by Turkey - says talks can not go on indefinitely. Anastasiades ruled out allowing Turkey to retain any military intervention rights in Cyprus or to keep troops on the ground after a deal, something that Turkish Cypriots insist is crucial to their security.

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Ban had said in his opening speech that he hopes a solution to the Cyprus problem could be found during his time as Secretary General of the UN. "Expectations in both communities are high".

Anastasiades and Akinci will concentrate this week on how much territory each side will administer under an envisioned federation. Two-thirds of Turkish Cypriots approved, but Greek Cypriots rejected it by a landslide.

"Occupation troops may offer security for one community, but certainly they create insecurity of the other community", he said, adding that a beefed-up United Nations police force answering directly to the U.N. Security Council could provide ample security for both sides. But before Turkey's 1974 invasion, Morphou's population was nearly entirely Greek Cypriot. He said 8 billion euros ($8.87 billion) would be enough to cover the cost of an accord.

Turkish Cypriots see their future hinging on being the masters of their own domain, having an administrative zone of their own to run without being dominated by the majority Greek Cypriots - or Turkey for that matter.