Akinci insists on Turkish military presence on Cyprus

28 December 2016
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Expectations of a successful outcome to reunification talks between rival leaders on Cyprus were somewhat dampened on Wednesday after Turkish-Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci reiterated to the Turkish service of the BBC that if Greece and Cyprus insist on a settlement which includes “no guarantees and no armies,” then “negotiations will end before they even begin.”

Akinci argued that his demand for a Turkish military presence on the island and a system of guarantees, which the Greek side wants to scrap as an “anachronism,” stemmed from his desire “not to experience war again.”

“I want a preventive force so that we don’t live such days [of war] again,” he said, although he added that Turkey would not annex the island’s occupied part in the event that negotiations and the summit do not lead to a solution.

Analysts, however, said his comments must be seen within the context of calls made by Turkish Cypriots, even from within his own party, for him to walk out of the talks.

Ahead of the crucial multilateral summit in Geneva on January 12, the Greek Foreign Ministry’s General Secretary Nikos Paraskevopoulos and his aides landed in Ankara on Wednesday for talks with Turkish officials, and to lay the groundwork for a possible meeting between Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Meanwhile, Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias said on Wednesday that Athens supports Turkey’s European aspirations but noted that this “doesn’t depend on us or the EU, but on their choices and their will.”

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