Turkey rejects claims of troop withdrawal from Cyprus

Greek media reports of 4-step plan to cut Turkey’s military presence on divided island dismissed by Ankara

Greek media claims about an alleged plan to cut Turkish troop numbers in Cyprus by 80 percent were dismissed by Ankara on Thursday.

A spokesman for the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Hüseyin Müftüoğlu, said stories claiming Turkey had presented a four-step plan to reduce its military presence on the divided island were “not true”.

The percentages mentioned in the reports were also false, Müftüoğlu added.

Thursday’s developments come amid international talks to resolve the Cyprus issue, currently being held in the Alpine resort of Crans-Montana, Switzerland.

Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akıncı and Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades met in Crans-Montana on Thursday, joined by the UN envoy Espen Barth Eide, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu and Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias.

The UN is seeking a peace deal to unite Cyprus under a federal umbrella, which could also define the future of Europe’s relations with Turkey, a key player in the conflict.

This latest round of Cyprus talks began on Wednesday and are expected to continue about a week.

UN head to join talks

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is expected to join the ongoing discussion on Friday.

The restart of the Cyprus talks on June 28 was announced earlier this month after Guterres met Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot leaders in New York.

The last attempt to resolve the crisis ended in failure in 2004 after the UN-backed Annan plan was rejected by Greek Cypriot voters in a referendum.

According to Turkish diplomatic sources, Cavusoglu said on Wednesday: “We are here for a solution. The 50-year conflict should come to an end.”

The eastern Mediterranean island has been divided since 1974, when a Greek Cypriot coup was followed by violence against the island’s Turks, and Ankara’s intervention as a guarantor power.

Ankara has maintained a military presence there ever since, to safeguard the Turkish community on the island.

Akıncı and Anastasiades have been involved in reunification talks to create a federal state since May 2015.

The pair met several times in Geneva and Mont Pelerin last year, but their last meeting in February was fraught with controversy over a Greek Cypriot decision to introduce a commemoration of the 1950 Enosis referendum on unification with Greece.

Both sides had agreed on most issues in the reunification deal but the sticking points, including a security and guarantee system, remain unresolved.