NEWS

Anastasiades blames Turkey for impasse in Cyprus peace talks

TAGS: Cyprus, Interview

Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades has blamed Turkey for an impasse in talks to reunify the Mediterranean island which were interrupted last month in a row over a decision by Greek-Cypriot lawmakers to honor the 1950 “enosis” referendum seeking union with Greece.

“The influence exercised by Ankara, either via the presence of the army or via the economic dependence of Turkish Cypriots, has created a situation which, I have to say, is disappointing,” Anastasiades said in an interview with Kathimerini’s executive editor Alexis Papachelas on Skai TV’s “Istories” (Stories) program late Tuesday, while also expressing his disappointment with the reaction of Turkish-Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci.

Asked about the recent spate of Turkish provocations, Anastasiades said he would have to be “divorced from reality” to remain unconcerned with the situation, adding that similar incidents are to be expected in the region as long as the Cyprus issue remains unresolved.

“I hope this is just a bid to strengthen or galvanize Turkey’s domestic front so that [President Recep Tayyip] Erdogan can achieve his objectives,” Anastasiades said.

The Turkish president hopes to expand his executive powers in a referendum set to take place on April 16.

Commenting on the stalled reunification talks, Anastasiades said that the Cyprus Parliament’s decision to commemorate the plebiscite date in schools was a “mistake,” adding however that Turkish Cypriots had used the gesture as a pretext to pull out of the talks.

Although Cyprus’s left-wing main opposition party voted against the motion submitted by a small far-right party, an abstention by Anastasiades’s conservative party meant it got through.

The Cyprus president also stressed that Athens and Nicosia were on the same page during peace talks in Mont Pelerin and Geneva.

“There was never any disagreement... On the contrary, we are in full cooperation with the Greek government,” he said, adding that this included Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras as well as Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias.

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