Turkish Cypriot leader snubs 'peace' football match

Turkish Cypriot leader snubs 'peace' football match

PYLA- Agence France-Presse
Turkish Cypriot leader snubs peace football match

Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akıncı snubbed a football match on March 19 aimed at fostering dialogue on the divided island, in a row over where the game was played.

"It was not possible for us to take part after it had no longer any links to the principles put forward in advance," Akıncı told journalists.

The match between Greek Cypriot club Nea Salamina Ammochostou and Turkish Cypriot club Magusa Türk Gücü kicked off in the mixed village of Pyla.

The village sits in the U.N.-patrolled buffer zone and spreads into the Greek Cypriot area, where the football game was held.

"In the buffer region, it would be equal... but this development created a new situation," Akıncı said.

He added that he was not in principle against going to joint events across the border, but only if such events were also held in the north.

The match was attended by Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades, who declined to comment on the absence of the Turkish Cypriot leader.

Akıncı and Anastasiades met in the buffer zone last month for informal talks, but no date has been set for resuming peace talks which collapsed in 2017.

Aleem Siddique, spokesman for the United Nations peacekeeping force on the island, said there were hopes "they're going to resume negotiations soon.”

He saw events such as the football match- which was goalless at full time - as a key part in the broader peace efforts.

Turkish Cyprus, Mustafa Akıncı, football match