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Cyprus Talks Stumble over Turkish-Greek Dispute | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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British soldiers speak to migrants on a beach at Royal Air Force (RAF) Akrotiri in Cyprus, October 21, 2015, in this handout courtesy of the RAF. REUTERS/RAF/Handout via Reuters

Geneva- Hopes for a peace deal on Cyprus stalled Friday over controversial Greek and Turkish statements.

A number of officials earlier expressed optimism regarding reaching a deal and solving the issue after five days of negotiations in Geneva between Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci, who were joined by British, Greek, Turkish and European foreign ministers.

Yet, the post-meeting statements dispelled hopes in reaching a reunification deal in the near future.

According to Agence France Presse, Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias said: “A just solution (to division) means, first of all, eliminating what caused it, namely the occupation and presence of occupation forces.”

This followed statements by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that a full withdrawal of Turkish troops from Cyprus was “out of the question”, knowing that Turkey has deployed around 30,000 soldiers in Cyprus as a response to the failed 1974 coup.

For his part, Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades demanded the withdrawal of Turkish forces unlike Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci who hoped otherwise.

In a groundbreaking move on Wednesday, the sides submitted proposals on how to define the post-settlement boundaries. Under the proposals, Turkish Cypriots would retain between 28.2 and 29.2 percent of total Cypriot territory, down from about 36 percent now.

Britain has offered as part of any final peace deal to relinquish about half of the 98 square miles it still administers – equivalent to 3 percent of Cypriot territory.

Greece, Turkey and Britain were assigned as “guarantor” powers in a treaty adopted when Cyprus gained independence of London in 1960. Greece seeks abolition of the guarantor system, accusing Turkey of abusing it through its 1974 invasion and the continued stationing of some 30,000 Turkish troops in the north.