Turkey insists on settlement of Cyprus problem under UN’s aegis
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday he is confident that direct peace talks on reunifying the divided eastern Mediterranean island of Cyprus will take place soon, Nasdaq reported.
"We expect that the two Cypriot leaders will soon agree on a date to relaunch talks on a solution," Erdogan told a joint news conference with Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat.
"If the parties have the will to succeed in reaching a solution, I believe they could do so very quickly. And as a guarantor power Turkey deeply believes in this," Erdogan said.
Cyprus President Demetris Christofias, a Greek Cypriot, and Talat are due to meet on July 25 for a final review of preparatory negotiations before the expected launch of direct talks between the two sides.
The two met in March under United Nations auspices and agreed to set up working groups to lay the groundwork for negotiations to take place at leader level.
Both leaders have also agreed in principle to a single citizenship and sovereignty in a reunified island, previously key stumbling blocks to holding fully fledged talks.
"The parties must come to the negotiating table with the will to reach a solution. If they do not, a solution will not be possible, " Erdogan said.
He is in the self-declared Turkish Republic of Cyprus, an entity recognised internationally only by Ankara, for ceremonies on Sunday to mark the anniversary of what Turkey calls its 1974 peace operation.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied its northern third in response to an Athens-engineered Greek Cypriot coup seeking union with Greece.
Talat told reporters on Saturday he hoped that at his next meeting with Christofias they would be able to announce a date for direct talks to resume.
"We favour a just and durable solution and are working towards this end," he said.
Christofias was non-committal on July 8 on whether a definite date would be set on July 25 for subsequent direct talks.
"There is no deadline for us... timetables were tried in 2004 and we had a bitter experience," he said of a referendum on a UN reunification blueprint that was rejected by Greek Cypriots after being approved by Turkish Cypriots.
"I have made it clear to Mr Talat... that strict timetables for when talks start or finish are unacceptable to us. It would be a tragic mistake for both communities if a tight deadline was imposed."