Peace talks will resume, says Turkish Cyprus president
Turkish Cypriot President Mustafa Akıncı is seen in this file photo. / AA PhotoEven if Cyprus reunification talks went off track on Feb. 16 due to a Greek Cypriot parliament decision to commemorate “Enosis” in public schools, the Turkish Cypriot president said they support a bi-zonal and bi-community federal state and have never given up on the reunification talks.
"We have a week until [next] Thursday [Feb. 23]," when talks are due to resume, state-run Anadolu Agency quoted Turkish Cypriot President Mustafa Akıncı as saying after receiving a delegation from the Bi-communal Peace Platform on Feb. 17.
"We will wait to see the next steps," Akıncı said. "We want a resolution and peace on this island," he added, saying that the Greek Cypriots should work to restore confidence.
Tensions soared over a law recently passed in the south that will now permit the celebration of a 1950 referendum, when 96 percent of Greek Cypriots voted for the island to be united with Greece, which is known as “Enosis” in Greek.
Akıncı’s remarks came one day after U.N. special envoy Espen Barth Eide said on Feb. 16 that although a meeting between Akıncı and Greek Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades “was not a very happy one” and “ended up abruptly,” the next round would still go ahead as planned next week.
“I am glad to convey to you that both leaders are committed to the process and nobody sees this process as over, terminated or even suspended,” said Eide.
Anastasiades and Akıncı on Feb. 17 engaged in a war of words over the previous day's walkout.
Eide said it was Akıncı who stormed off but the Turkish Cypriot leader on Feb. 17 accused the U.N. diplomat of "hiding half of the truth."
"Eide should not come to the situation of having the trust towards him questioned by saying one half of the truth and hiding the other," Akıncı was quoted as saying by AFP on Feb. 17.
He insists that Anastasiades left the room first, slamming the door behind him.
Akıncı said that when the “Enosis” issue was discussed, Anastasiades said there “was nothing else to say, slammed the door hard and left,” despite Eide’s effort to provide conciliation.
“At that point there was nothing more to do, as this meeting needs to be conducted in an atmosphere of respect. So we also left the meeting,” Akıncı had said on Feb. 16.
Anastasiades has denied this and his spokesman squarely blamed Akıncı, in what he branded a "pre-determined act.”
Anastasiades issued his own statement to try to set the record straight.
"I do not wish, in any way, to engage in an unnecessary blame game, especially after the public explanation" by the U.N. envoy, said the Greek Cypriot leader, according to AFP.
"I call on the Turkish Cypriot leader to be present at the next meeting so that through a constructive dialogue those conditions can be created that will allow us to be optimistic for a positive outcome."
The eastern Mediterranean island has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops intervened in the northern third after a coup aimed at unification with Greece took place.
The two sides have been engaged in fragile peace talks since May 2015 that observers have described as the best chance in years to reunify the island.