- Image 1 of 2
- Image 2 of 2
NICOSIA, Cyprus – Even the most hard-boiled Cypriots expressed pangs of disappointment Friday after the collapse of the latest round of talks aimed at reunifying their ethnically split island nation.
But many Cyprus residents on both sides of the divide have become almost inured to such bad news after decades of failed United Nations-sponsored peace talks.
"Now our voices need to be louder, more convincing," activist Tina Adamidou, who has participated in nightly peace demonstrations at the U.N.-controlled buffer zone that cuts across the country's capital, said. "We need to show that as Cypriots we are united."
While many issues remained unresolved, the deal-breaker was a clash over what would happen to the more than 35,000 troops that Turkey has kept in the island's breakaway Turkish Cypriot north since 1974, when it invaded following a coup mounted by supporters of union with Greece.
Greek and Greek Cypriot officials said it was Turkey's "obsession" with keeping its troops in place and the right to militarily intervene post-reunification that sunk the talks. Turkish and Turkish Cypriot officials said pulling all troops out and abolishing intervention rights was out of the question.
"We came very close," Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci said.
"Close, but not close enough," U.N. envoy Espen Barth Eide, who had practiced months of shuttle diplomacy ahead of the unsuccessful summit in hopes the talks would yield a peace deal, tweeted.
Officials involved in the 10 days of difficult negotiations at a Swiss resort said the failed talks would not be the end of the road for peace on Cyprus. But unlike previous attempts, there are now questions about the goal of future negotiations.
Turkey has indicated it would consider settling the decades-old problem in ways other than reunifying Cyprus as a federation, which has been the objective of peace talks for 43 years.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on his personal Twitter account that the result showed the "impossibility" of a federal Cyprus.
"We will continue efforts for a settlement within different parameters," Cavusoglu said.
It was unclear what those parameters would be. Suggestions of a formal partition of the island or Turkey's outright annexation of the north have swirled for years. Akinci said Turkish Cypriots would now focus on strengthening the north's ties with other parts of the world. Currently, only Turkey recognizes the breakaway north.
"Turkey will use to the end all of its rights stemming from international laws to protect the rights of the northern Cyprus Turkish state and of our brothers living there," Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said.
University of Nicosia International Politics Professor Giorgos Kentas said Turkey's alternative plans would likely mean augmenting its already weighty influence over the north.
"Turkey will use the north as a stepping stone to promote its regional interests," Kentas said.
In declaring the talks' collapse early Friday, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres left the door open for the world body to help "other initiatives" to resolve the decades of ethnic separation on Cyprus.
Kentas said a U.N. post-mortem on the failed talks will likely determine the world body's course of action on Cyprus, particularly the fate of its peacekeeping force that has been on the island since 1964.
Associated Press writer Suzan Fraser in Ankara contributed to this report.