NICOSIA, Cyprus — Stalled talks aimed at reunifying ethnically divided Cyprus appeared to be back on track Tuesday after a United Nations envoy said negotiations will resume next week after a nearly two-month break.
U.N. Envoy Espen Barth Eide said in a statement that the decision to restart talks came after consultations with both sides and a meeting Tuesday between U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and Mustafa Akinci, the leader of the breakaway Turkish Cypriots. Akinci and the island's Greek Cypriot president, Nicos Anastasiades, are scheduled to meet again on April 11.
Anastasiades said he hoped negotiations would focus on "constructive proposals" undergirded by European Union principles and values as well as being in line with EU law.
The reference appeared to target Turkish demands to keep troops and military intervention rights as part of any reunification accord which Greek Cypriots see as a threat that flouts EU norms.
A 1974 Turkish invasion triggered by a coup mounted by supporters of union with Greece split the island along ethnic lines. Only Turkey recognizes a breakaway Turkish Cypriot state in the island's north and keeps more than 35,000 troops there. Although the island joined the EU in 2004, only Greek Cypriots in the internationally recognized south of the island enjoy full membership benefits.
The leaders' last round of talks ran into trouble in February in a dispute over a historical commemoration in Greek Cypriot schools that Turkish Cypriots saw as a deviation from the stated goal of uniting the island as a federation.
Anastasiades rejected this, saying that Akinci used this as a pretext to break off talks because Turkish demands weren't getting much support. He said this led to a hardening of Turkish Cypriot positions ahead of Turkey's April 16 referendum on expanding presidential powers.
Speaking in Brussels, Akinci implied that the April 11 meeting could go ahead depending on whether Greek Cypriots repealed legislation that made the brief commemoration of a 1950 referendum for union with Greece mandatory in schools.
A parliamentary vote on an amendment diluting the legislation which is supported by the two largest Greek Cypriot parties is due April 7. Akinci said the amendment satisfies the Turkish Cypriot side.
Menelaos Hadjicostis, The Associated Press