Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades is set to meet newly elected Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci. The meeting comes ahead of a new round of UN-brokered talks aimed at reuniting the long-divided island.
Spokesman for Cyprus' government, Nicos Christodoulides, said on Tuesday that the two leaders will meet on Saturday to tackle issues relating to reconciliation efforts between the ethnically divided island.
Greek Cypriots pulled out of the UN-brokered talks in October 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. The venue is yet to be confirmed.
Hope of reunification
Akinci, a longtime advocate of reunifying the island, wasCyprus rejoices as unifier Akinci wins in Turkish north
elected as the leader of the breakaway Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) on Sunday - defeating nationalist incumbent Dervis Eroglu.
Following Akinci's election, Anastasiades said on Monday that the result 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 said in Cyprus' capital, Nicosia.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan scolded Akinci, however, after the new Turkish Cypriot leader said Turkey and the TRNC should enjoy a relationship of "brotherly countries" rather than mother and child.
Four divided decades
Cyprus has been divided by a UN-monitored ceasefire line 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.
The separatist state is recognized only by Turkey, however, which provides around a third of its budget.
Earlier last week, both Ankara and Washington voiced hope that 2015 be the year Cyprus becomes reunited.
ksb/bw (AFP, AP)