Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades has relayed a message to his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, proposing the start of negotiations to reunite the divided island as a federation, the Cyprus Mail reported on Wednesday.
Anastasiades’ proposed negotiations would seek to bring the breakaway Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus into a bizonal bicommunal federation (BBF) with the majority Greek Republic of Cyprus.
The message was sent to Erdoğan through Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who held a meeting with the Turkish president at the United Nations General Assembly this week, the state-run Cyprus Broadcasting Corporation reported.
The island has been divided since 1974, when Turkey launched an invasion in response to a Greek nationalist coup. A large Turkish military presence has remained on the island since then.
A succession of talks to reunite the island have failed over disagreements on core issues, including the readjustment of territory.
Anastasiades wishes for the talks to pick up from the point they reached during the last round of talks, which broke down in 2017, the Cyprus Mail reported.
However, Turkey has repeatedly stated that it does not wish to go down the same route and is seeking alternatives, the Cypriot newspaper said.
At a conference last week, Turkish Cypriot Prime Minister Ersin Tatar discussed plans to reopen for settlement Varosha, a tourist resort town that was abandoned after conflict broke out in 1974 and has been fenced off since then.
Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay said archival research had found that properties in the town had been illegally seized from their owners and would be returned during the same conference.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Cyprus that any unilateral action by Turkey to reopen the ghost town would be against UN regulations and would hamper peace talks, Greek newspaper Ekathimerini reported on Wednesday.
The island has been the focus of another major dispute in recent years over rights to tap large hydrocarbon reserves in the eastern Mediterranean. Turkey, the only country to formally recognise Northern Cyprus, rejects unilateral drilling by the Greek Republic of Cyprus, and has sent its own vessels to search for resources around the islands.
The European Union placed limited sanctions on Turkey this year over its drilling activities, which it considers illegal.