Turkey stalling on bilateral Cyprus meeting

Turkey stalling on bilateral Cyprus meeting

Hopes for special talks on Cyprus between Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan ahead of a multiparty summit on the issue of the divided Mediterranean island scheduled to take place in Geneva on January 12 are being frustrated by the apparent reluctance of Turkish authorities to have bilateral talks with Greece about Cyprus and some difference of opinion on certain issues between Athens and Nicosia.

Preparatory talks had been slated to get under way between senior officials of the Greek and Turkish foreign ministries to lay the groundwork for a meeting between Tsipras and Erdogan but no contacts have been made at that level, sources indicated.

There are concerns among Greek diplomats that Erdogan wants to avoid talks with Tsipras and is aiming to broach the thorny issues of security and guarantees on Cyprus, as well as matters relating to Greek-Turkish relations, at the multiparty summit in Geneva.

Another problem is that Athens and Nicosia do not see eye to eye on these matters. Although recent talks between Tsipras and Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades yielded public statements pointing to a common line, the two leaders’ three-hour meeting revealed differences of opinion.

Cyprus government officials on Friday expressed satisfaction regarding the outcome of Anastasiades’s talks with European officials in Brussels.

Meanwhile European Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas confirmed that Brussels is planning to send a representative to the meeting in Switzerland in the new year.

Anastasiades and Turkish-Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci agreed to resume United Nations-brokered negotiations aimed at reunifying the island early this month after talks broke down in Switzerland in November.

Cyprus has been split along Greek and Turkish ethnic lines since 1974 when Turkey invaded and occupied the northern third of the island in response to an abortive Athens-backed coup to unite it with Greece. Since then, Turkey has settled thousands of ethnic Turks in the occupied part of Cyprus.

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