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Iran Press TV

Cyprus urges Turkey's seriousness in reunification talks

Iran Press TV

Sat Dec 31, 2016 5:50PM

Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades has called on Turkey to face up to its commitments regarding the reunification of the Mediterranean island when crucial peace talks resume next month in Switzerland.

Anastasiades said in a televised New Year's message on Saturday that talks in Geneva from January 9 would be a major opportunity to test Turkey's seriousness about Cypriot reunification.

He said Turkey "will have to demonstrate whether its public rhetoric about wanting a solution to the Cyprus problem will be transformed into a specific proposal," adding that the talks "will be the first time that Turkey will be brought face to face with its own responsibilities."

Turkey is one of the guarantor powers of Cyprus, along with Britain and Greece. Representatives of the three countries are expected to join Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci on January 12 if talks between Anastasiades and Akinci bear fruit.

Anastasiades said Turkey should stick to its commitments and contribute to the reunification process by providing a proposal that "respect international legality and be consistent with the status of the Republic of Cyprus as an EU member state."

For over 40 years, Cyprus has been divided into the Greek mainland and a breakaway called Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, which is solely recognized by Ankara. The area is about a third of Cyprus and has about 20 percent of the island's population.

The United Nations has been mediating for more than 19 months between Anastasiades and Akinci although prospects for a permanent peace deal are very dim. A previous round of negotiations broke down last month.

A main bone of contention is how much and which land currently controlled by the Turkish Cypriots will be ceded to Greek Cypriot control in the future. Another one is how many Greek Cypriots could return to homes they fled in 1974, when Turkish troops invaded the island to stop an Athens-inspired coup and union with Greece.

Anastasiades has admitted that reaching a lasting peace would be a tough task. "There remain significant differences on substantive issues fundamental to a Cyprus solution."

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