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Turkish Cypriot president says critical week of talks ahead

TURKISH CYPRIOT PRESIDENT SAYS CRITICAL WEEK OF TALKS AHEAD

Turkish Cypriot President Mustafa Akıncı said on Sunday that the Cyprus talks in the Swiss Alps are heading into a critical decision-making week, warning the Greek Cypriot side that reaching a deal will require resolve on both sides.

"The new week which is starting tomorrow will be vital decision-making week for the future of Cyprus and the region. I hope our determination will not be unreciprocated," Akıncı said in a statement on Sunday.

"We have continued the talks with the idea that this would be the decision-making conference," he added.

Saying that all sides agreed on Friday to discuss the important issues as a package, Akıncı said: "We had a two-table format in Crans-Montana, with table one addressing the security and guarantees questions, including with guarantor countries, while the second table is composed only by the two Cypriot sides."

He added: "Turkish Cyprus has been arguing for a long time that the method of discussing the issues separately is no longer sufficient and a package system is needed. We were arguing that there should be synchronized parallel tables for all issues in the package to be discussed."

- FINAL ROUND?
The current round of Cyprus talks in Crans-Montana, which began on June 28, is currently on break, and is expected to resume Monday.

During the break, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Çavuşoğlu and Akıncı met Sunday to discuss the latest developments.

Çavuşoğlu has urged a final settlement in the ongoing "last" round of Cyprus negotiations meant to reach an agreement for reunification of the island.

Speaking with reporters in Crans-Montana on Friday, Çavuşoğlu said: "The Turkish delegation and Turkish Cypriots have been acting in a constructive and sincere manner. This is the final conference, last conference, and we need to reach a settlement, so to reach a settlement, we need to agree on all outstanding issues."

His comments came after Antonio Guterres, the UN secretary-general, said: "The solution is very, very difficult to find," and that there was "no deadline" to finding a solution.

"There is still a lot of work to be done," Guterres added.

Earlier, on Thursday, Çavuşoğlu also said: "We cannot continue negotiations forever".

The Cyprus peace talks in Switzerland had previously been called the "best, but not the last chance" to solve the long-standing dispute by Espen Barth Eide, the UN Cyprus envoy.

Guterres on Friday participated in the Cyprus conference, meeting the Turkish and Greek Cypriot leaders plus the guarantor countries -- Turkey, Greece and Britain -- and left the Swiss city on Saturday.

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.

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.

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