Greek Cypriot President Demitris Christofias says Turkey has no chance of joining the European Union as long as its troops occupy the northern third of the island. Mr. Christofias also says if UN-brokered peace talks between the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities fail, there is no alternative plan for reuniting the country.
In an interview this week, Mr. Christofias sent a clear message to Ankara that Turkey will not be able to join the European Union unless it ends its occupation of the northern sector of Cyprus.
"No, it is not possible for Turkey to be accepted as a member of the union (EU), continuing its occupation of Cyprus. It is very clear and it's clear for the members of the European Union," he said.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkey invaded the northern part of the island in response to a military coup that was backed by the Greek government. South Cyprus joined the European Union in 2004 and the self-proclaimed Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus is only recognized by Turkey.
President Christofias is currently engaged in U.N. sponsored peace talks with the Turkish Cypriots aimed at ending the 35-year division. The negotiations have been described as the 'last chance' for Cyprus peace.
In an interview with VOA, Christofias admitted that if the current peace talks fail to yield results, he has no alternative plan of action.
"I could say we have no alternative for a new failure. I would be the unhappy human being in the world if we couldn't achieve a common acceptable solution. So, I said already, speaking about an alternative, there is no plan B," he said. "The target is very clear, to be together, to show good will, to try and be Cypriots, prove that we are Cypriots and that we work and we fight for the interests of our people, both communities and our common homeland."
Neither side sees permanent partition as an option, but they are struggling to agree on how the island will be reunited.
The president also dismissed any notion of arbitration or strict timetables in the ongoing peace process.