Cyprus president: "historical reference" not a policy change

Cyprus' president has rebuffed claims by breakaway Turkish Cypriots that new legislation making the annual commemoration of a 1950 vote in support of union with Greece compulsory in Greek Cypriot schools threatens to derail peace talks.

President Nicos Anastasiades said Monday the legislation "about a mere reference to a historical fact" in no way reflects a change in Greek Cypriot policy to reunify the ethnically split island as a federation.

The commemoration would involve taking a few minutes of the school day to note the event and elaborate on its significance.

Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci repeated Monday the legislation could hurt peace talks.

Cyprus was split in 1974 when Turkey invaded after a coup aimed at union with Greece.