NEWS

Cyprus talks stumble on crossing

The latest round of United Nations-mediated talks aimed at reunifying Cyprus hit its first major hurdle yesterday as Cyprus President Dimitris Christofias and Turkish-Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat failed to agree on the opening of a new crossing point on the divided island and authorities in Nicosia expressed fears that Talat was being controlled by the Turkish military. Following his 29th face-to-face talks with Talat since last September, Christofias accused the Turkish-Cypriot leader of imposing unacceptable conditions on the Greek-Cypriot side, such as demanding that fuel pass through its territory to a Turkish military outpost. «Mr Talat insists on his terms of letting fuel pass through but each time imposes new conditions, which certainly cannot be accepted,» Christofias told reporters. «I must say I am disappointed,» he added. The Cyprus president clearly expressed his fears that Talat was being influenced. «I don’t think the Turkish army wants to open the Limnitis crossing. I expected different behavior from Talat. It seems that it’s not dependent on him,» he said. Greek-Cypriot residents in the northwestern region of Tillyria have been pushing for the crossing to be opened at Limnitis, as this would reduce the travel time to Nicosia by half. There are currently six crossings along different points of the border, opened up to facilitate the transfer of people and goods. Agreeing that the opening of additional crossings was also a method of building trust between the two communities, Christofias and Talat had agreed late last year to open the Limnitis border point. In a report submitted on Wednesday to the United Nations Security Council, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said he was «disappointed» at the lack of progress in building trust. «Other confidence-building measures, such as the creation of crossings, including Limnitis, would greatly contribute to an improvement in the atmosphere on the island,» he said.