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Cyprus Cyprus Talks Divided Island

Leaders agree to meet on April 16 (Updated)

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President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci have agreed to hold an informal meeting on April 16, the UN said on Friday.

According to a statement, the meeting will be hosted by Deputy Special Adviser to the UN Secretary-General Elizabeth Spehar. It will take place at the chief of mission’s residence in the buffer zone at 7pm.

Akinci said earlier that an informal meeting between the two sides was not the resumption of talks, which broke down last summer.

Both sides have since lost confidence, a problem compounded by the recent row over the island’s natural gas reserves.

Turkish Cypriots want to have a say on the issue and want it discussed at the talks. The Greek Cypriot side has rejected gas being part of the talks, arguing that it has already been decided that it should be handled by the federal government after the island’s reunification.

The Greek Cypriot side has also accused Turkish Cypriots of siding with Turkey and essentially supporting Ankara’s interests instead of their community’s.

Last month, Turkish warships prevented Italian energy company ENI from drilling in a field inside block 6 of the Republic’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

Turkey argues it is safeguarding the rights of Turkish Cypriots, but it also has its own claims inside Cyprus’ EEZ.

Earlier on Friday Akinci said a will for coexistence was necessary to resolve the problem and not bold steps.

He was alluding to comments made by UN Under-Secretary General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman who said it would take ‘some bold leadership steps’ to restore confidence in Cyprus and move towards negotiations.

Akinci reiterated that Greek Cypriot mentality must change, listing a series of events that proved his point.

One was the education minister’s order to a contractor to rip out a marble floor installed at a school in Limassol after it transpired that the material was from the north. Others included the castigation of a Greek Cypriot shop owner for selling potatoes grown in the north and Wednesday’s assault against a Turkish Cypriot basket seller by a pair of youths at an open market in Nicosia.

He also mentioned the education minister’s visit to the offices of far-right Elam party and his comments afterwards about shared values.

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