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Cyprus: Ground not yet ready for peace talks resumption

Published
A man sits by a sign reading 'Peace

NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) — Conditions aren't yet ready for a resumption of formal talks to reunify ethnically divided Cyprus because both sides remain apart on key issues regarding power sharing and security arrangements, the island nation's president said Tuesday.

Nicos Anastasiades, a Greek Cypriot, says efforts to restart negotiations are going through a "difficult phase," but that he and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci have pledged to work to get negotiations back on track.

The United Nations hosted an informal meeting between the two men — the first in four months — in hopes they could clear the air on certain issues that would allow talks to resume on reunifying Cyprus as a federation.

High-level negotiations that also brought together top diplomats from guarantor powers Greece, Turkey and Britain collapsed in July 2017.

Cyprus was split in 1974 when Turkey invaded following a coup by supporters of union with Greece.

Both men said another meeting could happen in the next few months. But Anastasiades said "there doesn't appear to be the preconditions presently" for a return to full-fledged talks.

The key stumbling blocks include a Turkish Cypriot demand for equal say in all federal decision making, something that the majority Greek Cypriots fear is a form of veto power that could hamper the smooth functioning of the state.

To overcome that, Anastasiades has proposed allocating more decision-making power to the Greek and Turkish speaking administrative zones that will compose a federated Cyprus. But Akinci said no matter how decentralized a federal state, Turkish Cypriots are entitled to decision-making parity on a federal level.

Greek Cypriots also want an end to military intervention rights ceded to Turkey, as well as the withdrawal of all Turkish military forces from a reunified Cyprus which they see as a means of control by Turkey. Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots say intervention rights and a Turkish troop presence are an essential security component for them.

Turkey has kept more than 35,000 troops in the north since 1974.

During the meeting, Anastasiades and Akinci agreed on several measures to boost confidence, including an arrangement enabling people living in the breakaway north and the internationally recognized south to use their mobile telephones on either side.

Men walk under a Turkish, left, and a Turkish Cypriot breakaway flags at the north part of the city, by the U.N buffer zone that divide the Greek, south, and the Turkish Cypriots, north, controlled areas in divided capital Nicosia, Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2019. Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and breakaway Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci they meet today under the U.N to laying the groundwork for a return to reunification negotiations almost two years after the most recent bid to hammer out a peace accord collapse. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)
A Turkish, left, and Turkish Cypriot breakaway flag are seen on two polls at a Turkish military area at the north part of the city, as two peacekeepers walk the U.N buffer zone that divide the Greek, south, and the Turkish Cypriots, north, controlled areas in divided capital Nicosia, Cyprus, Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2019. Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and breakaway Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci they meet today under the U.N to laying the groundwork for a return to reunification negotiations almost two years after the most recent bid to hammer out a peace accord collapse. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)
Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades, left, and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci pose for a photo during their meeting at a U.N compound inside the U.N buffer zone in divided capital Nicosia, Cyprus, Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2019. Anastasiades and Akinci will meet under the U.N to laying the groundwork for a return to reunification negotiations almost two years after the most recent bid to hammer out a peace accord collapse. (Iakovos Hatzistavrou/Pool via AP)
A Turkish, left, and Turkish Cypriot breakaway flag are seen on two polls at a Turkish military area through a fence from the U.N buffer zone that divide the Greek, south, and the Turkish Cypriots, north, controlled areas in divided capital Nicosia, Cyprus, Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2019. Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and breakaway Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci they meet today under the U.N to laying the groundwork for a return to reunification negotiations almost two years after the most recent bid to hammer out a peace accord collapse. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)
An elderly man is seen through a military fighter position inside the U.N buffer zone that divides the Greek, south, and the Turkish Cypriots, north, controlled areas in divided capital Nicosia, Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2019. Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and breakaway Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci they meet today under the U.N to laying the groundwork for a return to reunification negotiations almost two years after the most recent bid to hammer out a peace accord collapse. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)
Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades, second left, Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci and UN Secretary General's Special Representative to Cyprus Elizabeth Spehar, center, stand for a photo as they arrive at a U.N compound inside the U.N buffer zone in divided capital Nicosia, Cyprus, Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2019. Anastasiades and Akinci will meet under the U.N to laying the groundwork for a return to reunification negotiations almost two years after the most recent bid to hammer out a peace accord collapse. (Iakovos Hatzistavrou/Pool via AP)
A tourist stands outside of the Holy Cross Catholic Church in the capital of Nicosia, Cyprus, Monday, Feb. 25, 2019. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)
A Turkish military sign hangs near barbed wire inside a military zone at the Turkish occupied area, that divide the Greek, south, and the Turkish Cypriots, north, controlled areas in divided capital Nicosia, Cyprus, Monday, Feb. 25, 2019. Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and breakaway Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci will start Tuesday laying the groundwork for a return to reunification negotiations almost two years after the most recent bid to hammer out a peace accord collapsed. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)
People stand at the Turkish occupied area behind a wire that divide the Greek, south, and the Turkish Cypriots, north, controlled areas in divided capital Nicosia, Cyprus, Monday, Feb. 25, 2019. Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and breakaway Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci will start tomorrow laying the groundwork for a return to reunification negotiations almost two years after the most recent bid to hammer out a peace accord collapsed. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)
A man walks by the barrels that divide the Greek, south, and the Turkish Cypriots, north, controlled areas in divided capital Nicosia, Cyprus, Monday, Feb. 25, 2019. Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and breakaway Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci will start tomorrow laying the groundwork for a return to reunification negotiations almost two years after the most recent bid to hammer out a peace accord collapsed. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)
A man stands by the barrels that divide the Greek, south, and the Turkish Cypriots, north, controlled areas in divided capital Nicosia, Cyprus, Monday, Feb. 25, 2019. Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and breakaway Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci will start tomorrow laying the groundwork for a return to reunification negotiations almost two years after the most recent bid to hammer out a peace accord collapsed. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)
An elderly man is seen through a military fighter position inside the U.N buffer zone that divides the Greek, south, and the Turkish Cypriots, north, controlled areas in divided capital Nicosia, Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2019. Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and breakaway Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci they meet today under the U.N to laying the groundwork for a return to reunification negotiations almost two years after the most recent bid to hammer out a peace accord collapse. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)
An elderly man is seen through a military fighter position inside the U.N buffer zone that divides the Greek, south, and the Turkish Cypriots, north, controlled areas in divided capital Nicosia, Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2019. Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and breakaway Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci they meet today under the U.N to laying the groundwork for a return to reunification negotiations almost two years after the most recent bid to hammer out a peace accord collapse. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)
A man sits by a sign reading 'Peace
A man sits by a sign reading 'Peace" near from the main Ledra checkpoint that crosses from the south, Greek, to the ,north, Turkish Cypriots, controlled areas in divided capital Nicosia, Cyprus, Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2019. Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and breakaway Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci they meet today under the U.N to laying the groundwork for a return to reunification negotiations almost two years after the most recent bid to hammer out a peace accord collapse. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)
A man stands by the barrels that divide the Greek, south, and the Turkish Cypriots, north, controlled areas in divided capital Nicosia, Cyprus, Monday, Feb. 25, 2019. Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and breakaway Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci will start tomorrow laying the groundwork for a return to reunification negotiations almost two years after the most recent bid to hammer out a peace accord collapsed. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)
A man stands by the barrels that divide the Greek, south, and the Turkish Cypriots, north, controlled areas in divided capital Nicosia, Cyprus, Monday, Feb. 25, 2019. Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and breakaway Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci will start tomorrow laying the groundwork for a return to reunification negotiations almost two years after the most recent bid to hammer out a peace accord collapsed. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)
A man walks by the barrels that divide the Greek, south, and the Turkish Cypriots, north, controlled areas in divided capital Nicosia, Cyprus, Monday, Feb. 25, 2019. Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and breakaway Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci will start tomorrow laying the groundwork for a return to reunification negotiations almost two years after the most recent bid to hammer out a peace accord collapsed. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)
A man walks by the barrels that divide the Greek, south, and the Turkish Cypriots, north, controlled areas in divided capital Nicosia, Cyprus, Monday, Feb. 25, 2019. Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and breakaway Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci will start tomorrow laying the groundwork for a return to reunification negotiations almost two years after the most recent bid to hammer out a peace accord collapsed. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)
A tourist stands outside of the Holy Cross Catholic Church in the capital of Nicosia, Cyprus, Monday, Feb. 25, 2019. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)
A tourist stands outside of the Holy Cross Catholic Church in the capital of Nicosia, Cyprus, Monday, Feb. 25, 2019. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)
A Turkish, left, and Turkish Cypriot breakaway flag are seen on two polls at a Turkish military area through a fence from the U.N buffer zone that divide the Greek, south, and the Turkish Cypriots, north, controlled areas in divided capital Nicosia, Cyprus, Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2019. Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and breakaway Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci they meet today under the U.N to laying the groundwork for a return to reunification negotiations almost two years after the most recent bid to hammer out a peace accord collapse. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)
A Turkish, left, and Turkish Cypriot breakaway flag are seen on two polls at a Turkish military area through a fence from the U.N buffer zone that divide the Greek, south, and the Turkish Cypriots, north, controlled areas in divided capital Nicosia, Cyprus, Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2019. Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and breakaway Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci they meet today under the U.N to laying the groundwork for a return to reunification negotiations almost two years after the most recent bid to hammer out a peace accord collapse. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)
A Turkish, left, and Turkish Cypriot breakaway flag are seen on two polls at a Turkish military area at the north part of the city, as two peacekeepers walk the U.N buffer zone that divide the Greek, south, and the Turkish Cypriots, north, controlled areas in divided capital Nicosia, Cyprus, Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2019. Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and breakaway Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci they meet today under the U.N to laying the groundwork for a return to reunification negotiations almost two years after the most recent bid to hammer out a peace accord collapse. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)
A Turkish, left, and Turkish Cypriot breakaway flag are seen on two polls at a Turkish military area at the north part of the city, as two peacekeepers walk the U.N buffer zone that divide the Greek, south, and the Turkish Cypriots, north, controlled areas in divided capital Nicosia, Cyprus, Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2019. Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and breakaway Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci they meet today under the U.N to laying the groundwork for a return to reunification negotiations almost two years after the most recent bid to hammer out a peace accord collapse. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)
Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades, left, and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci pose for a photo during their meeting at a U.N compound inside the U.N buffer zone in divided capital Nicosia, Cyprus, Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2019. Anastasiades and Akinci will meet under the U.N to laying the groundwork for a return to reunification negotiations almost two years after the most recent bid to hammer out a peace accord collapse. (Iakovos Hatzistavrou/Pool via AP)
Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades, left, and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci pose for a photo during their meeting at a U.N compound inside the U.N buffer zone in divided capital Nicosia, Cyprus, Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2019. Anastasiades and Akinci will meet under the U.N to laying the groundwork for a return to reunification negotiations almost two years after the most recent bid to hammer out a peace accord collapse. (Iakovos Hatzistavrou/Pool via AP)
Men walk under a Turkish, left, and a Turkish Cypriot breakaway flags at the north part of the city, by the U.N buffer zone that divide the Greek, south, and the Turkish Cypriots, north, controlled areas in divided capital Nicosia, Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2019. Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and breakaway Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci they meet today under the U.N to laying the groundwork for a return to reunification negotiations almost two years after the most recent bid to hammer out a peace accord collapse. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)
Men walk under a Turkish, left, and a Turkish Cypriot breakaway flags at the north part of the city, by the U.N buffer zone that divide the Greek, south, and the Turkish Cypriots, north, controlled areas in divided capital Nicosia, Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2019. Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and breakaway Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci they meet today under the U.N to laying the groundwork for a return to reunification negotiations almost two years after the most recent bid to hammer out a peace accord collapse. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)
People stand at the Turkish occupied area behind a wire that divide the Greek, south, and the Turkish Cypriots, north, controlled areas in divided capital Nicosia, Cyprus, Monday, Feb. 25, 2019. Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and breakaway Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci will start tomorrow laying the groundwork for a return to reunification negotiations almost two years after the most recent bid to hammer out a peace accord collapsed. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)
People stand at the Turkish occupied area behind a wire that divide the Greek, south, and the Turkish Cypriots, north, controlled areas in divided capital Nicosia, Cyprus, Monday, Feb. 25, 2019. Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and breakaway Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci will start tomorrow laying the groundwork for a return to reunification negotiations almost two years after the most recent bid to hammer out a peace accord collapsed. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)
A Turkish military sign hangs near barbed wire inside a military zone at the Turkish occupied area, that divide the Greek, south, and the Turkish Cypriots, north, controlled areas in divided capital Nicosia, Cyprus, Monday, Feb. 25, 2019. Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and breakaway Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci will start Tuesday laying the groundwork for a return to reunification negotiations almost two years after the most recent bid to hammer out a peace accord collapsed. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)
A Turkish military sign hangs near barbed wire inside a military zone at the Turkish occupied area, that divide the Greek, south, and the Turkish Cypriots, north, controlled areas in divided capital Nicosia, Cyprus, Monday, Feb. 25, 2019. Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and breakaway Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci will start Tuesday laying the groundwork for a return to reunification negotiations almost two years after the most recent bid to hammer out a peace accord collapsed. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)
Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades, second left, Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci and UN Secretary General's Special Representative to Cyprus Elizabeth Spehar, center, stand for a photo as they arrive at a U.N compound inside the U.N buffer zone in divided capital Nicosia, Cyprus, Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2019. Anastasiades and Akinci will meet under the U.N to laying the groundwork for a return to reunification negotiations almost two years after the most recent bid to hammer out a peace accord collapse. (Iakovos Hatzistavrou/Pool via AP)
Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades, second left, Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci and UN Secretary General's Special Representative to Cyprus Elizabeth Spehar, center, stand for a photo as they arrive at a U.N compound inside the U.N buffer zone in divided capital Nicosia, Cyprus, Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2019. Anastasiades and Akinci will meet under the U.N to laying the groundwork for a return to reunification negotiations almost two years after the most recent bid to hammer out a peace accord collapse. (Iakovos Hatzistavrou/Pool via AP)