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NICOSIA – On the eve of the 40th anniversary of Turkey’s invasion, Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades said he’s worried that the island country’s division may become permanent, as unification talks broke down again, as they have for decades.

Anastasiades said that Cyprus’s Greek and Turkish communities must work together to make sure that partition does not go on, but that was offset by continued demands from Turkey it be allowed to keep a standing army on the northern third it controls.

Troops have been there for 40 years and Turkey, which wants to join the European Union but won’t recognize Cyprus – which is a member – said it will not change its position that its army is going to stay, a potential deal breaker even for Anastasiades, who has shown signs of being willing to make big concessions to get reunification.

He and his Turkish-Cypriot counterpart Dervis Eroglu earlier this year said talks would resume after a two-year hiatus during which the Turkish leader dug in his heels and wouldn’t negotiate, which prompted Anastasiades’ predecessor, Communist Dimitris Christofias, to throw up his hands in frustration and decide not to run again.

Both sides are also being squeezed by the  international community, especially the United States, United Nations and European Union, to find a resolution, with much of the pressure on the Greek-Cypriot side to relent and accept the results of the unlawful Turkish invasion.

“All the conditions are ripe for a solution to the Cyprus problem, but the point has to be driven home to the Turkish-Cypriot side as well as Turkey,” Anastasiades said a day before the July 20th date of Turkey sending in troops after a coup on the Cypriot side set off jitters.

But Turkish-Cypriot negotiators are reportedly insisting on the continued presence of Turkish troops over a Greek-Cypriot proposal for the EU and UN to act as guarantors on the island.

In a statement to Cyprus News Agency, Anastasiades said he still thinks there’s a chance for an agreement although Eroglu, a hard-liner, has shown no signs of compromise.

He said that a solution that will safeguard the rights of Greek Cypriots, without denying the rights of Turkish Cypriots, was feasible and would have political, social, and financial benefits. Turkey though, doesn’t want to return seized property and wasn’t even willing to accept a previous proposal from Christofias to allow a Turk to be the island’s President on a rotating basis.

“With the Cyprus problem solved, there will be more opportunities to exploit the hydrocarbon reserves in the Eastern Mediterranean and create conditions of reconciliation between Greece and Turkey,” Anastasiades said, in reference to the exploration for oil and gas – which Turkey covets as well.

“At the same time the solution will help consolidate a sentiment of stability and bring significant investments to the benefit of all the legal inhabitants of the country,” he added.

Anastasiades added that the future of the country would be better if the dividing lines were abolished through a federal Cyprus. Nicosia is divided between Cypriot and Turkish sides and patrolled by UN troops.

Describing the invasion as a tragic event, the President said, “The expulsion of the Greek population from the occupied part of Cyprus, the settlement of all Turkish Cypriots in the northern part of Cyprus and the organized colonization of the occupied areas by Turkey, have created a new reality on the ground.”

He warned of the risk of “this temporary” state of affairs turning permanent, the Cyprus Mail reported. “What I am concerned and anxious about is not to allow the permanent division of Cyprus. My message on the occasion of this anniversary is that we have to prevent this tragedy to complete its course.”

“The geopolitical balance in the region is being redesigned,” he said. “Cyprus is the only country in our region that can become the best example of coexistence of Christians and Muslims, that will maintain excellent relations with Israel and with all Arab countries.”

The solution, he pointed out, “will bring many benefits and I see no reason why we shall not be able to achieve this. “

“My wish and my hope is that the other side will understand the dynamics of this period to that we will be celebrating the anniversary of the solution and not the sad anniversary of the tragedy of 1974,” he said.

The post Cyprus Unity Talks Stall, Anastasiades Fears Endless Partition appeared first on The National Herald.

Source: The National Herald
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