Reunification talks between Greek and Turkish Cypruses have crashed abruptly over bitter difference between the two sides.
The meeting between Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades and his Turkish Cypriot counterpart Mustafa Akinci ended about an hour after it had started on Thursday.
On February 9, a vote at the Greek Cypriot parliament endorsed the results of a controversial, unofficial referendum in 1950 in which people voted for unification with Greece, a process known locally as “enosis.”
According to Akinci, the talks collapsed when the issue of scrapping the decision came up. At that point, Anastasiades said there “was nothing else to say, slammed the door and left,” Akinci said.
But Anastasiades said the Turkish Cypriot side left the talks first.
The United Nations facilitator mediating the talks said, however, that the reunification negotiations would continue at a later date.
“Both leaders very strongly said they are committed to this process, and nobody sees this process as over, or terminated, or suspended,” said Espen Barth Eide, the UN’s special envoy running the peace talks, which have been ongoing for almost two years.
The talks aim to end the division of the island, which has been an enduring bone of contention between NATO allies Greece and Turkey, and an obstacle to Turkey’s bid to join the European Union.
“Enosis,” or union, with Greece has long been a deep source of resentment among the island’s Turkish Cypriots and was partly the cause of inter-communal clashes in the 1960s, shortly after the island gained independence from Britain.
In 1974, the island was split into two parts after Turkish forces occupied the northern segment of Cyprus following a brief Greek Cypriot coup by elements in the military seeking to have the island annexed to Greece.
Greek Cyprus has been a member state of the EU since 2004.