By Merve Aydogan
ANKARA (AA) - As UN peacekeeping troops on the divided island of Cyprus got another six-month extension Wednesday, Turkey decried how the island’s Greek Cypriots are holding back progress towards any resolution.
Pointing to a Cyprus conference in Crans-Montana, Switzerland that ended in failure last July, a Turkish Foreign Ministry statement criticized how “the Greek Cypriots had no intention of entering into a partnership based on political equality with the Turkish Cypriots,” thus derailing the conference.
“Another major obstacle to an agreement was the Greek Cypriot side’s categorical rejection of a framework capable of addressing the legitimate security concerns of the Turkish Cypriots, which stem from their tragic past experience,” added the statement, referring to the ethnic violence that led to the island’s division.
“Any process in the coming period can only be successful if it is based on the current realities on the island and the experience gained from the negotiations conducted during the past half century,” the statement stressed.
The eastern Mediterranean island has been divided since 1974, when a Greek Cypriot coup was followed by violence against the island's Turks, and Ankara's intervention as a guarantor power.
The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus was declared on Nov. 15, 1983. It is currently recognized only by Turkey as an independent state.
The status of the island remains unresolved in spite of a series of peace proposals, including the UN’s Annan plan, which Turkish Cypriots accepted in a 2004 referendum, but failed after being rejected by Greek Cypriot voters.