Cyprus peace talks should stick to UN guidelines, Greece says

Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis (left) at the Presidential Palace, in Nicosia, Cyprus, on Feb 8, 2021. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

NICOSIA (REUTERS) - Cyprus and Greece will only accept a peace deal to end a decades-old division of the Mediterranean island based on UN resolutions, their leaders said on Monday (Feb 8), rejecting a two-state formula supported by Turkey and Turkish Cypriots.

The United Nations is set to invite Cyprus's rival communities and foreign ministers from Greece, Turkey and Britain to a summit in March to decide how to move forward on a conflict which is a source of tension between Athens and Ankara and complicates energy projects in the eastern Mediterranean.

"Athens and Nicosia remain focused on decisions of the United Nations... and which are the only agreed and binding framework for a solution," Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said in a statement after meeting Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades in Nicosia.

He said Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots were supporting positions which violated those principles.

Greece, Britain and Turkey are guarantor powers of Cyprus's independence and would need to sign off on any peace deal.

Governance is a key point in the dispute. UN resolutions call for the island's reunification under a two-zone federal umbrella on the basis of 1977 and 1979 agreements between the two sides.

Although that basis has been reaffirmed intermittently over the years, Turkey and the breakaway state have frequently called for a confederation, or two-state union.

That formula implies Turkish Cypriot sovereign authority which Greek Cypriots - who represent the whole of Cyprus internationally - refuse to discuss.

Cyprus was split in a Turkish invasion in 1974 triggered by a brief Greek inspired coup.

On the backburner for years, the simmering dispute has been brought into sharper focus by energy exploration in the eastern Mediterranean and a separate dispute between Turkey and Greece over their maritime boundaries.

Greece and Turkey recently resumed discussions on that issue after a four-year pause.

Mr Mitsotakis said Greece was talking to Turkey "with sincere intent, cautious optimism and zero naivety".

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