Former German chancellor Schroeder visits northern Cyprus

Other News Materials 1 February 2008 17:20 (UTC +04:00)

( dpa ) - Former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder arrived in Turkish northern Cyprus Friday afternoon for talks with Turkish Cypriot leaders in a visit that has been met with dismay by Greek Cypriot politicians.

Schroeder was scheduled to hold talks with Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) Prime Minister Ferdi Sabit Soyer and President Mehmet Ali Talat before leaving the island on Saturday.

Cyprus has been split between the internationally-recognized southern Cyprus and the Turkish Cypriot north since Turkey invaded in 1974 following a military coup engineered by pro-Athens Greek Cypriots.

The TRNC was established in 1983 and is only recognized by Ankara.

Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos described Schroeder's visit to the breakaway north as a "sad development."

"Mr Schroeder is a private citizen now, and I am sad that as a private citizen he continues to have the same feelings towards Turkey in general and the Turkish Cypriots that he had before," the Cyprus Mail newspaper quoted Papadopoulos as saying.

During his time as chancellor, Schroeder was a strong supporter of Turkey's bid to join the European Union and United Nations' efforts to reunite Cyprus.

The UN's efforts failed in 2004 when Greek Cypriots voted against a reunification plan.

Over the weekend, Schroeder met Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Istanbul.

No statement was given after the private meeting.