Cyprus Peace Talks Take Small Step

Greek- and Turkish-Cypriot negotiators were to visit Turkey and Greece for a preliminary round of discussions on talks to reunify the island.

Almost two years since talks stalled on trying to reunify the island divided by an unlawful Turkish invasion in 1974, Greek- and Turkish-Cypriot negotiators were due on Feb 27 to visit Turkey and Greece for a preliminary round of discussions.

That came in the aftermath of a junior coalition partner of Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades leaving the government after complaining he had already made concessions that could lead to a recognized separate Turkish state, not unification.

Anastasiades and his Turkish counterpart, Dervis Eroglu, earlier this month agreed to the groundwork on what the talks should contain although a solution has eluded a host of envoys for almost four decades with virtually no progress.

Greek-Cypriot official Andreas Mavroyiannis was scheduled to hold talks in Ankara with Foreign Minister Undersecretary Feridun Sinirlioglu, while Turkish-Cypriot negotiator Kudret Ozersay was expected in Athens for a meeting with Foreign Ministry General Secretary Anastasis Mitsialis.

Reports said Greek-Cypriot diplomats aimed to discuss specific issues, including the re-opening of the deserted district of Varosha. However, according to Hurriyet Daily News, Turkish officials suggested the contacts were mainly aimed to overcome psychological barriers and not to really do anything of significance.

“I believe a healthy dialogue can be built through meetings in Ankara and Athens. These discussions will develop a reliable environment of dialogue that will enable the removal of prejudices. What is crucial is removing prejudices,” Anadolu Agency quoted Ozersay as saying.

Turkey invaded Cyprus’s north in 1974 after a Greek-inspired coup. It provides political and financial support to a breakaway Turkish Cypriot state there which is recognized only by Ankara.