Greek foreign minister: Turkey wasn't ready for Cyprus deal

Cyprus' President Nicos Anastasiades, left, Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias, right, and Cyprus Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides, rear left, sit during a meeting at the presidential palace in divided capital Nicosia, Cyprus, Tuesday, July 18, 2017. Kotzias is in Cyprus for talks and he will attending the Cyprus' National Council meeting. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)

NICOSIA, Cyprus — Turkey showed it is not ready to come to an agreement on reunifying ethnically divided Cyprus during recently failed peace talks, Greece's foreign minister said Tuesday.

Nikos Kotzias said 10 days of negotiations at a Swiss resort, which ended July 7, collapsed because of Turkey's insistence on keeping troops on Cyprus and maintaining the right to intervene militarily there.

"We saw a Turkey that was playing with words but when it came time for decisions, it showed that it was totally unwilling, that it wasn't yet ready for a solution," Kotzias said meeting his Cypriot counterpart.

The talks at Crans-Montana capped two years of negotiations between Cyprus' President Nicos Anastasiades — a Greek Cypriot — and breakaway Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci on reunifying the island as a federation.

Also participating were top diplomats from Cyprus' 'guarantors' — Greece, Turkey and Britain. Their input was necessary to resolve the core issue of would happen to the 35,000 troops that Turkey has kept in the breakaway north since 1974 when it invaded following a coup mounted by supporters of union with Greece.

Seeing them as a threat, Greek Cypriots wanted the troops gone as part of any peace deal and replaced by an international police force. The minority Turkish Cypriots insisted that the troops remain as their sole protectors.

Kotzias said any future talks will now have to first resolve this issue and must be better prepared.

He faulted United Nations envoy Espen Barth Eide who facilitated the talks for showing up unprepared.

The Greek foreign minister said that Turkey and others mistakenly believed throughout the negotiations that Greece and the Greek Cypriot side would buckle under pressure and accept Turkey's positions.

Turkey's foreign ministry last week called similar remarks by Kotzias unacceptable and unfounded, and attributed the talks' failure to a "lack of good faith and political will" on the part of Greece and the Greek Cypriots.

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