Ahead of the resumption of peace talks on Tuesday to reunite ethnically divided Cyprus, its President Nicos Anastasiades said on Friday that he will not put a peace deal before the people for a vote if it doesn’t meet the expectations of the island’s two communities.
“If I am not satisfied that what we are trying to achieve meets our expectations, and [those of] both communities, then I would not be willing to put it before the people,” Anastasiades told Reuters in an interview on Friday, adding that “it must be a balanced deal, which doesn’t create the feeling of… one side winning over the other.”
Peace talks collapsed two months ago over controversial legislation passed by the Cyprus Parliament that instructed Greek-Cypriot schools to commemorate a 1950 referendum for union with Greece.
Turkish Cypriots vehemently opposed the move, saying it undermined the stated goal to reunify the island as a federation. The ensuing acrimony led to the collapse of the talks.
But Greek-Cypriot lawmakers amended the law on Friday so that the commemoration of the referendum will be at the full discretion of the education minister.
Anastasiades also noted that the recent discovery of natural gas off the island’s southern coast can serve as a catalyst to a solution which would “facilitate Turkey’s plans, either concerning supplies in its internal market, or converting Turkey into an energy hub.”