Cyprus president to meet dovish new Turkish Cypriot leader

President Nicos AnastasiadesCyprus President Nicos Anastasiades will meet newly elected Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci on Saturday ahead of a new round of UN-brokered talks aimed at reuniting the long-divided island, officials said.

Cyprus government spokesman Nicos Christodoulides said the two leaders had agreed to meet following a long telephone conversation on Tuesday.

He said the meeting would tackle issues relating to reconciliation efforts between the two sides, which have been on hold since October.

Akinci, a longtime champion of reunifying the island, was elected as the leader of the breakaway Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus on Sunday, defeating nationalist incumbent Dervis Eroglu.

Anastasiades said on Monday that Akinci’s election had renewed hope that a settlement could be reached between Turkish and Greek Cypriot leaders after 40 years of division.

“At long last, hope is created that our homeland can be reunited to create a modern state governed by EU principles, creating the prospects of cooperation, peace and tranquility,” Anastasiades told a conference in Nicosia.

UN envoy Espen Barth Eide is due back in Cyprus from May 4 to 8 to continue preparations for the talks’ resumption after the Greek Cypriots ended a six-month boycott, the United Nations said.

A UN-monitored ceasefire line has divided the island since 1974 when Turkish troops occupied its northern third in response to an Athens-inspired coup seeking union with Greece.

The Turkish Cypriots, who had already pulled out of government institutions in the face of communal violence in 1963, declared their breakaway state in 1983.

But it is recognised only by Turkey, which provides around a third of its budget.

The Greek Cypriots pulled out of the UN-brokered talks in protest at Turkish exploration for oil and gas off the island’s coast but announced earlier this month that they would return to the negotiating table after the Turkish Cypriot election.

Both Ankara and Washington voiced hope last week that 2015 could finally be the year that Cyprus is reunited.

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