Talks to re-start the long-stalled idea of reunifying Cyprus, which has been split since an unlawful 1974 invasion by Turkey, hit a major obstacle as soon as they started when the Turkish side insisted on keeping its sovereignty, reports said.
Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades, in office only since March, sat down on Nov. 25 for the first time with Turkish-Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu, a hardliner who scuttled talks with Anastasiades’ predecessor, Dimitris Christofias, forcing him to give up the office without seeking re-election.
The talks were in a “very tragic situation,” with the Turkish Cypriots eyeing a “divorce” post-settlement, Greek Cypriot negotiator Andreas Mavroyiannis said after Anastasiades became the latest in a long string of officials who failed to make headway.
Speaking to CyBC radio, Mavroyiannis said during the two leaders’ informal meeting in the buffer zone that Eroglu spoke clearly of two sovereign states.
Despite the President’s many efforts, Eroglu wouldn’t budge from his “hard line positions”, Mavroyiannis said.
“He insists that we have two sovereign states that will decide one day to join together and share in common a small number of powers, and they will maintain their sovereignty, citizens and all characteristics of a sovereign state.” He said, “It’s a “very tragic situation.”
While the meeting itself, which lasted over two and a half hours, was held in a “very good, friendly atmosphere”, Eroglu would not move an inch from his “extreme position,” the Cyprus Mail reported.
The Greek Cypriot negotiator accused the Turkish Cypriots of taking a hard line position in all their statements. Eroglu came to thes meeting with an announcement that he read out without stopping, drawing a line in the sand even before he sat down to talk.
Eroglu essentially accused the Greek Cypriots of holding the talks prisoner to the need for a joint declaration. “It’s not a question of terminology, but of a completely different approach. And they say, ‘Let’s start the talks and see what happens on the way.’ We insist these issues have to be cleared up now,” Mavroyiannis said. The debacle was another blow to any hope that the island will ever be one again.