World Bulletin / News Desk
Peace talks between Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots on the divided island of Cyprus have hit a snag after the Turkish Cypriot president Dervis Eroglu and his Greek Cypriot counterpart Nicos Anastasiades failed to see eye-to-eye on the power-sharing structure of a united state.
Turkish Cypriot President Dervis Eroglu complained that his counterpart was backing out of previous agreements that would see a rotating presidency between the two communities. According to Greek Cypriot proposals, the native Turks of the island would be reduced to a minority status in a Greek-dominated system.
Former Turkish Cypriot president Mehmet Ali Talat and Greek Cypriot president Demetris Christofias had already agreed to the rotating system, which was based on the 1960 Cyprus convention when Cyprus first became independent from 82 years of British rule.
However, Anastasiades now proposes a single voter list, which would defeat the objective of a bi-zonal federal state and allow Greek Cypriots to choose a Turkish leader that fits their own interests.
Despite differences, the negotiations between the two presidents will go ahead as planned on June 23 and July 7, as pressure builds on them to reach an agreement as soon as possible.
Cyprus has been divided into the Turkish north and Greek south since a coup on the convention-backed government by EOKA rebels seeking to unite the island with Greece in 1974 prompted Turkey to exercise its right as a constitutional guarantor.
After nine years of failed attempts to restore the convention-backed government, Turkish Cypriots declared the independence of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) in 1983, but only gained recognition from Turkey. Turkey meanwhile does not recognize the internationally accepted Greek Cypriot administration in the south.
However, efforts to reunite the island continued, and in 2004 Turkey encouraged Turkish Cypriots to vote 'yes' on a referendum to reunite the island before its accession into the European Union. Although Turkish Cypriots did vote 'yes', Greek Cypriots rejected the Annan Plan.
In 2012, Turkey froze talks with the Greek Cypriot administration after it took charge of the EU presidency. While talks remained suspended, the Greek Cypriots economy barely survived defaulting from the Euro after being hit hard by the Eurozone crisis. At the same time, Turkey was concerned over Greek Cypriot dealings over natural gas reserves found off in the Eastern Mediterranean while the island remained divided.
Turkey then began its own gas exploration off the island's northern coast to the displeasure of the Greek Cypriots, who deem such exploration as illegal. This prompted the restarting of peace talks in February 2014 after a two year pause.
It is hoped that an agreement between Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots will allow pipelines to be built from Cyprus across Turkey to the European market. However, Greek Cypriot officials have also brought up the possibility of building pipelines through Greece, thus leaving Turkey out of the equation.
Nonetheless, experts and officials have said that building pipelines through Greece would be almost impossible due to the deep waters between Cyprus and Crete.Last Mod: 04 Haziran 2014, 15:08