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Greek minister “not optimistic” on Cyprus talks February 5, 2010

Posted by Yilan in Cyprus, Turkey, Yunanistan.
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// Greece’s deputy foreign minister said on Wednesday he was not optimistic about current talks on reuniting Cyprus, describing the latest Turkish Cypriot proposals as “a step back.”


The minister, Dimitris Droutsas, was speaking as Greek and Turkish Cypriots are making a push under U.N. mediation to end the long division of the island, split by a Turkish invasion in 1974 that was triggered by a brief Greek-inspired coup.

Diplomats worry chances of a deal may recede if Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat, seen as a moderate, loses an April leadership election in northern Cyprus — a breakaway state recognized only by Turkey. A hard-liner leads most polls.

But Droutsas suggested Athens was in no hurry to see a hastily cobbled-together agreement and preferred to wait for a “really viable” accord.

“I cannot say that I am in a position of expressing too much optimism with the present stage of the negotiations,” the minister told reporters. Talat’s latest proposals were viewed by Greece “as a step back, and not as a step in the necessary right direction,” he said.

“What we have seen in the latest proposals by Mr. Talat is again the idea, and also the rhetoric, of the past, talking about two independent states forming some sort of confederation,” Droutsas added.

The United Nations has long pursued what it calls a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation in the Mediterranean island.

Droutsas said Greece hoped for progress in the coming days and weeks but opposed the idea “that if we do not take advantage of this opportunity, then we will never see a Cyprus solution.”

“Let me tell you that it can’t be the last opportunity, and we should always bear in mind that we need a solution that will really be viable and to the interest of both communities,” he said. “Time should not be the ultimate factor.”

Droutsas was speaking before meeting U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who visited Cyprus this week to try to give the talks a boost and said both sides must make more effort if a peace deal was to be successfully concluded.

The Cyprus dispute has impeded Turkey’s ambition to join the European Union, where Greek Cypriots represent the island.

Problems in the talks include how the two sides could jointly govern the island, the demands of thousands of people uprooted in past conflict, territorial disputes and the future of some 30,000 Turkish troops stationed in northern Cyprus.

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