Nicosia – Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades on Tuesday canceled a meeting scheduled in the framework of peace talks, denouncing what he sees as an attempt to recognize the northern part of the island, occupied by Turkey.
The decision comes after Mr Anastasiades, a Greek Cypriot, had given up attending a dinner in Istanbul for heads of state which was also invited at the last minute the Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci, who has no rank of president.
This is the first serious snag in the peace negotiations launched one year ago between Mr. Anastasiades and Akinci and to reunify the Mediterranean island divided since 1974.
With regret, President Anastasiades has established that the land was not suitable to hold a meeting with the Turkish Cypriot leader on May 27, said in a statement the government spokesman Nicos Christodoulides.
While he was on Monday in Istanbul to attend the World Humanitarian Summit, Mr. Anastasiades has decided not to attend the dinner when he learned that Mr. Akinci there would also be present, calling it unacceptable invitation.
Mustafa Akinci heads the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, proclaimed and recognized only by Turkey.
The invitation to Mr Akinci by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been seen, the Greek Cypriot side as an attempt to undermine the authority of the President of Cyprus and to give more credit to the Turkish Cypriot leader.
In New York, the deputy spokesman Farhan Haq UN stressed that it was an invitation from the Turkish authorities and that the UN was not involved.
The UN has not been formally informed of the decision of the Greek party not to participate in the next round of negotiations, he said.
At this important stage of the process, the secretary general (Ban) wishes to emphasize that the two leaders have shown great courage and great perseverance in the process and have made much progress, so it encourages them to redouble efforts, added the spokesman.
Mr. Anastasiades said he was determined to continue the peace talks provided there is mutual respect (…) and not unilateral decisions to raise the status of a pseudo-state.
Such decisions (…) not only does not help the ongoing process but harm it, the statement said.
After several failures the past 40 years of peace talks under the auspices of the UN were relaunched in May 2015 and are seen as the last chance to reunify the island.
Many feel that the good relations between the two leaders, who meet on a regular basis, can create a climate of confidence in the conclusion of a peace agreement but this latest incident may burden the atmosphere of the negotiations.
Cyprus has been divided in two since the invasion in 1974 of its northern part by Turkey in response to a coup aimed at connecting the country with Greece.
The authorities of the Republic of Cyprus does not exercise authority on the Greek Cypriot side of the island, or two-thirds the south.
Stéphane © armenews.com