Turkish FM to visit Turkish Cyprus amid crisis in peace talks
ANKARATurkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu will visit Turkish Cyprus on Feb. 20-21, as peace talks on the divided island hit a snag following the Greek Cypriot Parliament’s decision to celebrate a 1950 referendum aimed at unification with Greece.
“Çavuşoğlu … will pay a working visit on Feb. 20-21, 2017 to the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus [TRNC] to exchange views on the current state of the negotiation process aiming towards a comprehensive settlement on the Island,” read a statement issued by the Foreign Ministry on Feb. 19.
Çavuşoğlu will hold talks with Turkish Cypriot President Mustafa Akıncı, Prime Minister Hüseyin Özgürgün and his counterpart, Foreign Minister Tahsin Ertuğruloğlu.
Tension has soared between the Turkish and Greek Cypriot presidents over a law recently passed in the south that will now permit the celebration of the 1950 referendum, in which 96 percent of Greek Cypriots voted for the island to be united with Greece, known as “Enosis” in Greek.
The peace talks hit the rocks at the leaders’ meeting on Feb. 16 in Nicosia under the auspices of U.N. special envoy Espen Barth Eide.
Akıncı has said that when the “Enosis” issue was discussed, Greek Cypriot leader Anastasiades said there “was nothing else to say, slammed the door hard and left,” despite Eide’s effort to provide conciliation.
However, Anastasiades has denied this claim and accused Akıncı of leaving the meeting first.
After meeting Anastasiades and Akıncı separately following the meeting on Feb. 16, 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.
Eide and Akıncı separately said the next round of talks would be held on Feb. 23 as previously planned, but Akıncı said the talks could only resume once Anastasiades moves to restore deeply shaken trust.
Akıncı said his Greek Cypriot counterpart needs to publicly admit that the “Enosis” legislation was erroneous and should also act to rescind the legislation.
Anastasiades admitted on Feb. 18 that the legislation was “mistaken” but added that Turkish Cypriots should not “overreact” because there was no support for union with Greece and there was agreement that Cyprus should be reunified as a federation, The Associated Press reported.