NICOSIA, Jan. 13 (Xinhua) — The Turkish government and Turkish Cypriots have asked the United Nations to delay restarting negotiations for a solution to the Cyprus problem for at least five months, Cyprus’ state television reported on Sunday.
Quoting unnamed diplomatic sources, it said that both Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots have officially asked United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres to avoid any peace negotiations process for the reunification of the partitioned east Mediterranean island before local elections in Turkey in May are over.
The request came as the Secretary General’s personal envoy on Cyprus, Jane Holl Lute, prepares for a new round of negotiations with the Cypriot government and the Turkish Cypriot leadership for drafting the terms of reference of new negotiations early in February.
The UN-led negotiations for a solution to the decade-old Cyprus problem came to an inconclusive end in July, 2017. Guterres launched a new initiative in December for a new results-oriented round of negotiations.
Cypriot state television said that Turkey’s request is not expected to change the planning of the United Nations for the preparation of new Cyprus negotiations, and most notably a new visit to Cyprus by Lute to continue preparatory consultations.
Turkey’s Foreign Minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, last week publicly suggested a delay in restarting negotiations until after May, but he invoked other reasons for the postponement.
He referred to upcoming elections in Greece and Cyprus for new members of the European Parliament, uncertainty over Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union, and also a possible political crisis in Greece over a deal for the future name of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).
Greece and Britain, along with Turkey, are “guarantor powers” of Cyprus.
Turkey occupied the northern part of Cyprus in a 1974 military operation, in reaction to a coup by the military rulers of Greece at the time, partitioning the island and turning an internal dispute between the two communities of Cyprus into an intractable international problem.