Greek Cypriot leader walks out of talks

Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci

A feud over Cyprus' troubled history on Thursday led to the abrupt halt of reunification talks between the ethnically split island's rival leaders, with confusion and finger-pointing over who walked out on whom.

New Greek Cypriot law causes flare in tensions.

The President said that the Turkish Cypriot leader's claims as to what happened during today's meeting are not the real facts and expressed his belief that UNSG's Special Advisor for Cyprus Espen Barth Eide, who was present at the meeting, will set things straight.

"As Mr. Akinci himself has said at one point, he chose to leave the meeting", Eide said. Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said the Greek Cypriot side was constantly running away from the table, suggesting that it should return to the table if it wanted to negotiate.

Akinci, though, said Anastasiades gave a "bunch of excuses" and appeared to give short shrift to Turkish Cypriot sensitivities before storming out of the meeting first and slamming the door behind him.

The parliament of the Greek-speaking Republic of Cyprus voted last week to introduce a formal Enosis day in state schools, marking the anniversary of the 1950 referendum in which the island's Greek community opted for annexation to Athens.

In a letter to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday, Akinci warned the move would cause "great damage" to the peace process.

"We've reached this point, but I don't want to close all the doors to the negotiations", Akinci told reporters.

Nearly 96 percent of the island's majority Greek Cypriots signed up in favour of union between Cyprus and the "motherland" Greece in the unofficial referendum held in churches and coffee shops across the island, according to its organisers, the Cyprus Greek Orthodox Church.

Akinci said that the legislation on commemorating the event, proposed by the far-right party ELAM, fanned concerns among Turkish Cypriots over their security and bolstered mistrust. The two sides have been engaged in fragile peace talks since May 2015 that observers have described as the best chance in years to reunify the island.

In January, the United Nations hosted talks in Geneva bringing both sides together for the first time with the three "guarantor powers" of Britain, Greece and Turkey. Much of the progress until now has been based on the strong personal rapport between Anastasiades and Akıncı.

In 1974, a Turkish invasion triggered by a coup aiming at union with Greece split Cyprus into a breakaway Turkish speaking north and an internationally recognized, Greek speaking south. "It was not possible to tolerate this now", he said.



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