September 30, 2016 - 12:20 PM
NICOSIA, Cyprus - An insistence by breakaway Turkish Cypriots to cede Turkey the right to militarily intervene under a hoped-for deal reunifying the ethnically divided island of Cyprus is "excessive and unjustified," the island's president said Friday.
President Nicos Anastasiades said in a televised address marking Cyprus' 56th anniversary of independence from British colonial rule that no modern state within the European Union has any need for third-country security guarantees.
Any negotiated settlement to the island's 42 years of ethnic division must eliminate any dependence on third countries, Anastasiades said.
The president said while he acknowledges Turkish Cypriot mistrust of Greek Cypriots, he would not "satisfy unjustified concerns" at the expense of "existing and legitimate" Greek Cypriot fears.
Cyprus was split in 1974 when Turkey invaded after a coup aimed at union with Greece. Only Turkey recognizes a Turkish Cypriot declaration of independence, and it keeps more than 35,000 troops in the breakaway north. Cyprus is an EU member, but only the internationally recognized south enjoys full member benefits.
Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci are locked in complex negotiations to reach a peace accord by the end of the year. Both leaders have said progress has been made in shaping a federated Cyprus, but key differences remain.
The thorniest issues are how to deal with property abandoned during the Turkish invasion and how much territory each side will administer.
Greek and Turkish Cypriots will vote on any deal in simultaneous but separate referendums.
News from © The Associated Press, 2016