NEWS

Cyprus urges Turkey to face up to responsibilities

TAGS: Cyprus, Diplomacy, Politics

Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades on Saturday urged Turkey to live up to its responsibilities and help to reunify the divided island when crucial peace talks resume next month in Switzerland.

Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci are to hold talks in Geneva from January 9 after negotiations broke down last month.

If all goes well they will be joined on January 12 by the guarantor powers of Cyprus - Britain, Greece and Turkey.

The talks “will be the first time that Turkey will be brought face to face with its own responsibilities,” Anastasiades said in a televised New Year's message.

Turkey “will have to demonstrate whether its public rhetoric about wanting a solution to the Cyprus problem will be transformed into a specific proposal,” he said.

Any such proposal must “respect international legality and be consistent with the status of the Republic of Cyprus as an EU member state.”

Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded the island in response to an Athens-inspired coup seeking union with Greece.

The breakaway Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus is only recognised by Turkey.

It is hoped the outline of a peace deal can be reached in Geneva after 19 months of UN brokered talks between the rival Cypriot leaders.

But Anastasiades said the task ahead was a difficult one.

“There remain significant differences on substantive issues fundamental to a Cyprus solution,” he said.

It has long been agreed that some of the territory currently controlled by the Turkish Cypriots will be ceded to Greek Cypriot control in any deal.

But just how much and which land they should give up has bedevilled four decades of peace talks.

Turkish Cypriots made up just 18 percent of the island's population in 1974, but they control more than a third of its territory.

The two sides remain far apart on several issues, including how many Greek Cypriots could return to homes they fled in 1974 and future security arrangements.

Anastasiades wants all Turkish troops to withdraw but Akinci is determined to keep some on the island.

Greece, like Britain, has said it is willing to give up its right of intervention as a guarantor power.

Turkey has said it is ready to discuss security issues in five-way talks but is not ready to accept preconditions.

[AFP]

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