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Three Years Of Cyprus Reunification Talks End Without Agreement

Fri, 7th Jul 2017 14:16

ATHENS (Alliance News) - Reunification talks between the Turkish and Greek leaders of Cyprus ended early Friday without a deal, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said, extinguishing hopes that the 40-year-long conflict may be resolved.

Diplomats estimated that the failure after the latest attempt, lasting nearly three years, had cemented the division of Cyprus. Sources said the talks failed due to disagreement over the pull-out of Turkish troops in northern part of the island.

"The conference on Cyprus was closed without an agreement," Guterres said after the final, marathon session in the Swiss mountain resort of Crans-Montana. The outcome was "despite the very strong commitment and the engagement of all the delegations and the different parties."

The last-gasp effort began Thursday morning and ended Friday at 3 am (0100 GMT), ending 10 days of talks. Guterres joined the last round of the UN-mediated talks personally, seeing an opportunity to seal a deal.

Asked whether the talks would continue, Guterres said, "The conference is closed ... that doesn't mean that other initiatives cannot be developed."

The president of Turkish Cyprus, Mustafa Akinci, said the talks ultimately ended negatively, despite serious efforts.

"It was possible to create a situation in which both sides could have won. It got very near to that point," he said.

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim was less moved, saying simply "life goes on", no matter the outcome.

"If there is a wish for a fair solution, Turkey would continue to be constructive. But if not, it's not the end of the world," Yildirim said after Friday prayers.

The minister for Europe from former colonial power Britain and talks participant, Alan Duncan, as well as Greek and Turkish officials also hinted at continued negotiations.

"This is a disappointing outcome. The UK continues to be a strong supporter of a settlement. Now is a time for calm reflection and consideration of future steps. The commitment of the UK to a deal on Cyprus remains unwavering,"  Duncan said.

"The dream of resolving the Cyprus question remains alive," Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotsias said.

His Turkish counterpart, Mevlut Cavusoglu, pledged to "continue efforts to find a resolution under different parameters," though he had earlier in the talks said this would be the final attempt at such a conference on ending the crisis on the divided island.

The Greeks - Greece and Greek Cypriots - want Turkey to withdraw all of its 35,000-strong occupying force from the Turkish side of the island, but Ankara insisted on keeping a security contingent for at least 15 more years.

The Greek side insist that Cyprus, a EU country, does not need foreign troops as a guarantee of security and offered instead an international force for the transition period.

The island has been divided since 1974, when Athens staged a coup d'etat and Turkey responded with an invasion of a part of the island.

The negotiations are aimed at creating a federal structure with two politically equal states, the Greek Cypriots in the south and the Turkish Cypriots in the north.

Cyprus joined the EU in 2004. However, EU regulation does not apply in the northern part of the island.

Copyright dpa

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