Cyprus president says window for deal exists

Reuters News
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Posted: Oct 01, 2015 3:05 PM

NICOSIA (Reuters) - A settlement to Cyprus's long running division must address concerns of estranged Greek and Turkish Cypriots, the island's president said on Thursday, striking a conciliatory tone amid peace talks on the ethnically-split island.

President Nicos Anastasiades, a Greek Cypriot, said peace talks launched earlier this year with Turkish Cypriots held out the hope of breaking a logjam which has kept Cyprus partitioned for decades.

"Today a window of opportunity lies open, which revives our hopes for a final settlement to the Cyprus problem," Anastasiades said in a state address marking independence from Britain.

Cyprus gained independence in 1960, but friction between its Greek and Turkish Cypriots flared in 1963 and the island was split in an invasion by Turkey in 1974 after a brief coup engineered by the military then ruling Greece.

The conflict is a constant source of tension between NATO allies Greece and Turkey.

Successive peace talks have failed, but diplomats say chances of a breakthrough are elevated, particularly after the election earlier this year of moderate Turkish Cypriot Mustafa Akinci to lead his community in peace negotiations.

Anastasiades, a conservative elected President of Cyprus and Greek Cypriot leader in 2013, had supported peace initiatives in the past.

Anastasiades said he and Akinci shared a vision of peace, and said he hoped support for that vision would be extended 'beyond verbal support' and in practice by Turkey, which keeps more than 25,000 troops in the northern part of the island.

"In this new round of negotiations we want a solution where ... Cyprus will glow as a shining example of cultural, religious and linguistic example between Christian and Muslim communities," he said.

(Reporting By Michele Kambas)