NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) — A United Nations envoy hinted Thursday of concerns about how the fallout from Turkey’s failed coup could affect talks aimed at reunifying ethnically split Cyprus.
But Espen Barth Eide said there’s no evidence now suggesting Turkey’s government will shift its position of support for the complex negotiations.
“I would not be honest if I didn’t say that I’ve been worried over the last few days,” Eide said after talks with the island’s Greek Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades.
“There is no sign as of right now that there’s any change in the Turkish government’s position, which is consistently supportive of the talks.”
A 1974 Turkish invasion triggered by a coup aimed at a union with Greece split the island into an internationally recognized Greek Cypriot south and a breakaway Turkish Cypriot north. Only Turkey recognizes a Turkish Cypriot declaration of independence.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is set to receive parliamentary approval for a three-month state of emergency that would expand a crackdown in the wake of last week’s coup. Already, nearly 10,000 people have been arrested, hundreds of schools have been closed and nearly 59,000 civil service employees have been dismissed.
Eide says the region’s increasing troubles could prod Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci to resolve the decades-old problem. He said both men remain strongly committed to reaching a deal uniting the island as a two-zone federation.
“I think the best thing we can do is to not ignore, but to reduce the influence of external circumstances,” the U.N. envoy said, adding that the U.N. Security Council is solidly behind the peace talks.
Greek Cypriot officials say Turkey holds the key to the deal because of its strong influence over the Turkish Cypriots. Turkey bankrolls the Turkish Cypriot economy and maintains more than 40,000 troops in the breakaway north.
Greek Cypriots insist any future agreement must provide for the withdrawal of all Turkish troops and eliminate any military intervention rights granted to guarantors Britain, Greece and Turkey under Cyprus’ existing constitution.
Cyprus government spokesman Nicos Christodoulides said no one could argue that developments in Turkey aren’t affecting negotiations.
“We expect to see specifically how these developments are affecting the essence of the talks at the negotiating table,” Christodoulides said.