Greek and Turkish Cypriot leaders are due to resume U.N.-sponsored peace
talks next week. The talks were canceled after a border-spat between
Turkish Cypriot police and Greek Cypriot pilgrims. If successful, these
peace talks, which have been running since last September, could
formally end the 35-year division of the island.
President Demetris Christofias, who represents
the Greek Cypriot community, will meet Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet
Ali Talat on September 10.
The Greek Cypriots canceled the
latest session Thursday after Turkish Cypriot authorities held up a bus
convoy of Greek pilgrims for lengthy security checks as they sought to
cross the dividing line between the communities. The Greek Cypriots had
been headed for a religious service in a church in the Morphu area.
man who took the decision to pull the plug on the talks is Greek
Cypriot Presidential Commissioner George Iacovou. He says the incident
had soured the atmosphere and time was needed for reflection.
think the atmosphere was very charged, the atmosphere we require for
the talks is one of tranquility, one of understanding and we thought
this didn't prevail and we thought we both need time to reach that
tranquil atmosphere - so we said we would postpone that meeting," said
Australia's former foreign minister Alexander Downer is
the U.N. special envoy for Cyprus. He expressed disappointment at the
development, but remained upbeat.
"Obviously we are disappointed
with the events that have happened over the last couple of days, I've
made that clear," he said. "There's been a bump in the road here, but
it will be good to get back to the talks - there will be good days and
bad days, as there always are in these sorts of negotiations. There is
a lot at stake here; there is the future of Cyprus at stake here, so
this is not a small matter."
The leaders are under pressure to
achieve a breakthrough before the EU summit in December, when Turkey
could be sanctioned for its refusal to open its ports and airports to
Turkey's bid to join the European Union hinges on a peace deal in Cyprus.
Turkish Cypriot north and the Greek Cypriot south have been engaged in
U.N.-led comprehensive negotiations since late last year.
has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded the island in
response to a coup in Nicosia by supporters of a union with Greece.