NEWS

Greek Cypriot leader says time for ‘sobriety’ on UN peace process

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President Nicos Anastasiades addressed parliament Thursday to try to convince Cypriots that a UN-backed peace deal is possible for the divided island, in a rare move by a Greek Cypriot leader.

He said there were still difficulties in UN-sponsored peace talks with the Turkish Cypriots launched last May but that the overall atmosphere was "positive."

The Turkish Cypriot side wants to discuss the crunch issue of territorial adjustments last for fear of leaks that could derail the process, Anastasiades revealed.

The president also said he still needed more time to secure a solution to put before the Greek Cypriots to ensure it had no "ambiguities."

Any peace accord must be ratified by Cypriots at the ballot box in separate referenda.

The last time this happened Greek Cypriots rejected a UN blueprint in 2004 that Anastasiades had supported, before he became president.

But he stressed it was now time for both the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities to realise that going down the road of peace was their only option.

"Though the solution of the Cyprus problem interests the international community, the European Union and Turkey for various reasons, those who should be most interested are the Cypriot people," Anastasiades told parliament.

He said Greek and Turkish Cypriots should consider with "sobriety" what their future would be in a divided country compared to the mutual benefits of a reunited Cyprus.

"No matter what our ideological differences, no matter what our disagreements, what certainly does not find us divided is the common vision of our country’s liberation and reunification," he said.

Last month, Anastasiades and his Turkish Cypriot counterpart Mustafa Akinci made an unprecedented joint appearance before global business and political leaders in Davos, Switzerland to proclaim their peace building credentials.

For Cyprus talks to move beyond where they have failed in the past, hard decisions must be taken on prickly issues such as territorial adjustments, power sharing and property rights.

The leaders are working on a formula to resolve the issues of property, security guarantees and territorial adjustment that would create a united, federal Cyprus.
Many believe the good chemistry between Anastasiades and Akinci can create a climate of trust in order for an elusive deal to be reached.

The long-stalled UN-brokered peace talks are seen as the last best chance to reunify Cyprus after four decades of division.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops occupied its northern third in response to an Athens-inspired coup seeking union with Greece. [AFP]