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‘Erdogan may be more open to deal after coup’

Foreign Minister Ioannis kasoulides

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan may be more willing to back a deal to reunite the island following Turkey’s failed army coup in July, Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides said on Tuesday.

He said July’s failed military coup, which led to the arrests and sackings of many army officials, could free Erdogan to accept a withdrawal of Turkish forces stationed in northern Cyprus since 1974.

Turkey’s once-mighty military has long taken a hawkish stance on the Cyprus issue.

“We are in the process of resolving all the internal issues in this story, but the issue that will lead to a solution or failure is the security issue,” said Kasoulides.

“For the (Turkish) army, the problem was solved in 1974, but my analysis is that, since the failed coup d’etat, the army obstacle no longer exists,” he told reporters in Nicosia.

After the talks held in Switzerland in November failed to conclude an agreement to bring the two sides together negotiations are now back on with international meetings set for January.

President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci will reconvene with the United Nations on January 9 in Geneva before being joined three days later by Greece, Britain and Turkey, which guarantee the constitutional settlement on the island.

Other powers, including members of the UN Security Council who would rubberstamp any deal, could also attend those talks during which new proposals will be made, Kasoulides said.

With ties between the EU and Turkey now very strained and little prospect of Turkey’s accession to the bloc, Kasoulides added, Erdogan could seek a Cyprus deal to secure Ankara’s wider interests in the east Mediterranean.

“Turkey’s motivation today is not accession to the European Union. It’s more Syria, (the northern Iraqi city of) Mosul and taking advantage of the gas fields that could transit from its territory to Europe,” he said.

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