World Bulletin/News Desk
Turkish President Abdullah Gul has stressed the importance of the need to reach a peace agreement on the divided island of Cyprus under current UN-sponsored talks after 40 years of political deadlock.
Gul addressed the press in Lefkosa on Saturday, where he came to attend the 40th anniversary ceremony of Turkey’s ‘Operation Atilla’ when thousands of troops were sent to protect the island’s Turkish population after a Greece-backed coup d’etat on 20 June 1974, before he is due to step down from the Turkish presidency on 28 August.
Speaking in a joint press conference with his TRNC counterpart, Dervis Eroglu, Gul said: "There has been a tranquil situation on the island for 40 years - not a peace deal."
Referring to a 2004 plan put forward by former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to reunify the Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot communities, Gul said: "Both the EU and the UN supported the peace plan in 2004. I hope that such an environment can be established again."
The plan was defeated by a "no" vote in a referendum on the Greek portion of the island, while Turkish Cypriots voted in favor of the Annan plan.
Gul said open-ended negotiations, without a timetable, had lost the island a chance to arrive at a permanent peace deal.
He added: "If a partnership-driven solution is not possible, then other alternatives should be on the table - we should consider negotiating different solution alternatives."
Eroglu also emphasized that the Turkish peace mission paved the way for permanent peace in the island.
Eroglu decorated Gul with a state medal during the visit for his services to Turkish Cyprus state.
The island of Cyprus has remained divided into Greek and Turkish sides since a Greek Cypriot coup was followed by a Turkish peace mission to aid Turkish Cypriots in the north in 1974.
A de facto ceasefire has existed between the two parts since that date.
The latest round of negations in the island started in February.
Turkey will choose its next president in elections on 10 August.
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