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Turk deputy PM says Cyprus deal needed by end 2010 August 8, 2010

Posted by Yilan in Cyprus, Turkey.
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Turkish special forces take part in a military parade in the Turkish-occupied area at northern divided capital of Nicosia, Cyprus, on Tuesday. The parade was part of celebrations marking the 36th anniversary of the invasion and occupation of the northern area of the island. Cyprus was split into Greek Cypriot south and Turkish Cypriot north in 1974 when Turkey invaded in response to a coup by supporters of union with Greece. (AP)

UN backed efforts to reunite the ethnically divided island of Cyprus could be lost unless a breakthrough is made by the end of the year, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Cemil Cicek said on Tuesday.

Cyprus was split between ethnic Greeks in the south and Turks in the north after a Greek inspired coup triggered a Turkish invasion in 1974.

The dispute has hobbled Turkey’s bid to join the European Union, as Greek Cypriots with veto rights represent Cyprus in the bloc.

“We seek a solution by the end of 2010. However, if this cannot be achieved everyone will go their separate ways,” Cicek said in a speech at a military parade in the north of Nicosia to commemorate the landing of Turkish troops on July 20, 1974.

“The talks cannot go on indefinitely,” he said.

The United Nations is to prepare a mid-term progress report this November on Cypriot reunification talks. Diplomats say the UN is frustrated with the slow pace of negotiations to re-link the island under a federal system.

Turkey holds considerable sway in northern Cyprus, a breakaway state recognized only by Ankara and where it still has some 30,000 troops stationed.

“I call upon the EU and those who back the Greek Cypriot side to review their approach and to contemplate what will happen if there is no solution by the end of the year,” Cicek said.

“A solution is not impossible…If a solution is going to be found it must be based on the reality that there are two equal peoples and two equal states in Cyprus,” he said.

Turkish calls for a deadline in negotiations are resisted by Greek Cypriots.

Cicek, whose country has seen its EU accession talks partly frozen because of the conflict over Cyprus, said Turkish Cypriots would always come first.

“For those who ask Turkey to make a decision between north Cyprus and the EU, let me say that we will always, always, always choose Cyprus.”

Both Turkey and the Greek side of Cyprus are due to hold parliamentary elections next year.

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