Foreign Ministers of Greece and Turkey have welcomed a decision by Cyprus’s rival Greek and Turkish communities to relaunch stalled talks aimed at reunifying the divided island, calling it an opportunity that should not squandered.
Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias and Turkey’s Mevlut Cavusoglu on Tuesday also vowed to continue to work to improve often-frosty relations and said the countries have reached an agreement on maritime security in the Aegean Sea, without providing details on the deal.
Greek Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and new Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci agreed late Monday to relaunch talks on May 15.
The agreement came after the UN envoy Espen Barth Eide had a meeting with the Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades and the newly-elected Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci.
The island of Cyprus has been ethnically divided since the military coup by the Greek junta in a bid to unite the island with Greece in July 1974. The coup had led Turkey to exercise its right under the 1960 Treaty of Guarantee to conduct a military intervention in the island.
Almost a decade after Turkey secured the northern third of the island and a population exchange between the Turkish Cypriots in the south and Greek Cypriots in the north, failure to reach an agreement with the Greek Cypriots to restore the constitutional government led to the Turkish Cypriots declaring the independence of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) - which is only recognised by Turkey.
A number of attempts to restore the constitution have failed since then, with the latest example being the Cyprus referendum of 2004 for the reunification of the island.
While the majority of the Turkish Cypriots voted to reunite the island, which would have secured the withdrawal of Turkish troops, the Greek Cypriots voted against the reunification.