Greece Blames Turks for Talks Stalemate On Cyprus

ATHENS (Reuters)–Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis said on Friday UN-brokered talks on Cyprus were showing no signs of progress because Turkey and the Turkish-Cypriot side had adopted a negative stance.

Simitis–speaking to reporters after meeting Greek-Cypriot President Glafcos Clerides in Athens–did not give any details of what was holding up progress in negotiations over the divided Mediterranean island.

"(Turkish-Cypriot leader) Mr. (Rauf) Denktash remains uncompromising. The Ankara position is negative. So despite our constructive proposals there was no progress," Simitis said.

Greek Cypriots want one state comprising two ethnic regions–while Turkish Cypriots want a union of two largely independent states in a new confederation which would replace the existing internationally-recognized Republic of Cyprus.

Deep differences also exist on issues ranging from power-sharing to territorial trade-offs.

Clerides and Denktash have failed to make any progress during direct talks in the past nine months.

They last met at the United Nations in New York two weeks ago in an effort to reach a settlement for the island–divided since 1974 after a Turkish invasion following a failed Greek-Cypriot coup aimed at uniting the island with Greece.

The leaders were due to return to the negotiating table in mid-October in a last bid to reunite Cyprus before the European Union’s December summit at which it is due to announce an entry date for the internationally-recognized Greek Cypriot government.

But Denktash had heart surgery after the New York meeting and is not expected to return to the talks for eight weeks.

The United Nations is widely expected to submit a peace plan to the two sides in mid-November–hoping for the bare outlines of an agreement before the EU summit.

Turkey has threatened it will annex the northern third of the island if the EU accepts Cyprus as a member of the 15-nation bloc before a peace deal is clinched.

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