‘Waiting for the other to walk’

NICOSIA (Reuters) – Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash said yesterday Greek Cypriots had tried this week to provoke a breakdown in negotiations to end the division of the island, but insisted that talks would «continue until the end.» «There were moments where we just stood waiting for the other side to get up and walk,» he told Reuters in an interview. «Neither side did and they couldn’t afford to.» Denktash and Cypriot President Glafcos Clerides are under pressure to seal a deal by the end of the year when the EU will decide a timetable for its next enlargement, which is expected to include Cyprus. Denktash cited reports in the Cypriot media that talks were foundering on his intransigence. He offered his own account of his last meeting with Clerides this week. «On Tuesday, they were trying very hard to force the Turkish side to walk out,» he said. «Their position is that we are intransigent, that we run away, we stop talks. They did everything possible.» Each side frequently points the finger at the other for stonewalling, while diplomats are more inclined to side with the Greek Cypriots. «There have been signs from the Greek Cypriot side of genuine flexibility,» British envoy Lord David Hannay told Turkey’s CNN Turk last week. «I don’t want to be too categorical about the Turkish-Cypriot side but I have been disappointed at various moments in recent weeks.» The United Nations, brokering the talks, has pressed for the outline of an agreement by the end of this month. But Denktash said this was not possible. «Autumn is a possible target, but both sides must sincerely project their views and not hide behind slogans.» Denktash said Tuesday’s showdown came over the issue of security.

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