Troop presence stalls settlement talks over Cyprus
euronews (in English) - Friday, 13 January 2017
It’s emerged the security situation in Cyprus was the main stumbling block during talks on reunifying the island. Greece wants Turkey to withdraw its 30,000 troops but Ankara insists their presence is a “force of stability.” Speaking a day after the talks broke-up without any agreement Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the issue has been brought up before and that Greece too should pull-out their troops. Cyprus says it foresees “radical” reform of the island’s security and that Turkey’s participation in the talks shows its prepared to cooperate. Cyprus has been partitioned into ethnic Turkish and Greek zones since Turkish troops invaded in 1974 in response to a short-lived coup by Greek Cypriot militants seeking union with Greece. But intercommunal violence had simmered since the 1960s when a power-sharing system collapsed. In a statement, the United Nations said technical talks on security, which begin next Wednesday, are expected to run in parallel with negotiations to tie-up unresolved issues in other areas. Espen Barth Eide, Special Advisor to the UN Secretary-General on Cyprus said: “The final decision is to be made by the people in referenda. I mean one referendum but one on each side, on the same day. And we will of course only know when we’ve seen the outcome. According to the UN, the conference on security, including the governments of Greece, Turkey and Britain, will continue “immediately thereafter” but it’s failed to set a precise date.