January 13, 2017 / 11:57 AM / 3 years ago

Cyprus president foresees "radical" reform of island's security

GENEVA (Reuters) - Talks on reunifying Cyprus should produce a “radical” change in the island’s security situation, which is currently guaranteed by Greece, Turkey and Britain, Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades told a news conference in Geneva on Friday.

Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades speaks during a news conference in Geneva, Switzerland January 13, 2017. REUTERS/Pierre Albouy

He was speaking the day after U.N.-hosted talks broke up with a promise to bring officials together next week in working groups to tackle the thorny issue of security.

“The fact that the U.N. announcement outlines a clear intent by participants to reach a mutually acceptable solution on the security and guarantee issues … is a mandate to the working groups to process new forms (of guarantees), acceptable and radically different from the guarantee system of 1960,” he said.

A major bone of contention is the presence of about 30,000 Turkish troops on the island, which the Greek Cypriot side want removed but Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has described as a “force of stability” in Cyprus.

“I won’t comment on the position of Mr Cavusoglu,” Anastasiades said.

“Actually, it is a source (of) and maintains instability, which is why the Cyprus problem has been open 43 years. But what one should focus on is that we are discussing ways to find a solution which will reflect the security concerns of all Cypriots.”

Turkey’s participation in the talks showed it was prepared to cooperate, he added.

“It’s not a question of hope. While the dialogue is alive and steps are taken which allow a dialogue, I live in hope.”

The technical talks on security, which begin on Jan. 18, are expected to run in parallel with negotiations to tie up unresolved issues in other areas of the talks, the United Nations said in a statement late on Thursday.

The conference on security, including the governments of Greece, Turkey and Britain, will continue “immediately thereafter”, the U.N. statement said, without giving a date.

Reporting by Michele Kambas; writing by Tom Miles; editing by Andrew Roche

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