Cyprus Willing To Talk Reunification, Only If Turkey Stops Threats

Αssociated Press

FILE - A tourist from U.S visits a blocked road with barrels and barbed wires between the Greek and the Turkish Cypriots controlled areas by the U.N buffer zone in divided capital Nicosia, Cyprus, Tuesday, July 4, 2017. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)

Hopes to reunify Cyprus, split since an unlawful 1974 invasion saw Turkey occupy the northern third, have been repeatedly dashed but President Nicos Anastasiades said he's willing to give it another go if Turkey pulls back ships drilling for energy and stops provocations.

"For the (Cyprus peace) talks to resume with realistic prospects for success, it is imperative to create an environment which will be conducive for constructive and good faith negotiations... not under conditions of intimidation or threats," he told the United Nations General Assembly, said Reuters.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres became the latest leader of that body to fail in brokering an agreement when secret negotiations fell apart in July, 2017 at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana.

That happened when Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Turkish-Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci said they would never remove a 35,000-strong standing army on the occupied northern third and wanted the right of futher military intervention.

Turkey is drilling in Cyprus' Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ,) parts of which it doesn't recognize and wants Turkish-Cypriots to be able to take part in the licensing of foreign energy companies also hunting for oil and gas.

Anastasiades repeated his offer to give the Turkish-Cypriot side 30 percent of potentially lucrative revenues but that's not enough for Erdogan and Akinci who want other concessions.

He wants tougher sanctions on Turkey, Erdogan ignoring mild penalties that exempted him and any high-ranking officials apart from two executives of Turkey's state-run petroleum company.

With the EU requiring unanimous consent in foreign policy decisions, Cyprus – which has only 0.02 percent of the bloc's population – vetoed sanctions on Belarus for the rigged reelection of President Alexander Lukashenko because penalties for Turkey weren't on the table as well.