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UK insists guarantor powers should meet for Cyprus March 3, 2010

Posted by Yilan in Cyprus, Turkey.
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The United Kingdom has put an old ball back into play by proposing a trilateral meeting on the Cyprus issue with Turkey and Greece. The three countries were granted guarantor power over the island by agreements that established the state of Cyprus in 1960.

The U.K. is reportedly concerned with a possible failure of the talks that are happening on the divided island between the Turkish and Greek Cypriot communities, the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review has learned from diplomatic sources.

Greek and Turkish Cypriot leaders have been negotiating for 17 months in the latest of many attempts to reunify the island. They are attempting to broker a power-sharing agreement for a future federation.

Turkish Cypriot President Mehmet Ali Talat will run for presidential elections, and opinion polls show he is likely to lose to a more hawkish name, especially if bi-communal talks do not end with a successful outcome before April.

In a recent telephone conversation with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğıan, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown reiterated the U.K.’s proposal for a trilateral meeting, first offered about a month ago to see in what ways the three countries could help the two leaders on the island reach a solution.

The U.K. has called on Turkey and Greece for the meeting but avoided the terminology of guarantor powers. Under current policy, Turkey should have responded positively to the proposal. “In the past, Greek Cyprus wanted to internationalize the problem as well as the peace talks, whereas Turkey would have tried to avoid outside intervention. Now this has reversed and we want international attention while the Greek Cypriots want to divert attention,” a senior official from the Turkish Foreign Ministry said last week.

While Turkey has called on the international community to do more to encourage leaders on the island to reach a solution sooner rather than later, it has not yet responded positively to the U.K.’s proposal. “We are not categorically against it and we have not said ‘no’ so far,” a Turkish diplomat told the Daily News.

The Turkish government is convinced that Greek Cyprus has decided to stall the talks until the April elections. Following the possible ascent of a more hawkish name in Turkish Cyprus, Greek Cypriot leadership will blame the new Turkish Cypriot leader for failing to find a solution.

“The timing of the trilateral meeting is very important. Right now there are intensified talks on the island and we do not want to give the Greek Cypriot side any reason to divert their attention from the process,” said the Turkish diplomat talking on condition of anonymity.

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