Cyprus president: Decentralized government best for peace

Cyprus' president Nicos Anastasiades speaks to the media at the presidential palace in divided capital Nicosia, Cyprus, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018. Anastasiades holds news conference to elaborate on his vision on how the ethnically split island nation could be reunified as a decentralized federation. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)

NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) — The president of Cyprus took to the airwaves on Tuesday to defend his proposal for a more decentralized federal government he contended would function better if a reunification deal is reached with the ethnically divided nation’s breakaway Turkish Cypriots.

President Nicos Anastasiades said that giving more authority to the island’s Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot zones would reduce deadlocks in decision-making at the federal level and make a peace accord more successful.

Anastasiades didn’t specify which responsibilities would be deferred to the zones, but said during a televised news conference that any decentralization wouldn’t compromise Cyprus’ territorial integrity, sovereignty, security or economy.

He said granting more power to either zone to decide on issues of “direct concern” would ease Turkish Cypriot concerns of domination by the majority Greek Cypriots and would roll back veto powers Turkish Cypriots seek in decision making on a federal level.

A lesser risk of deadlock would alternately assuage Greek Cypriot fears that a peace deal could collapse and slide control of the island to Turkey which wants to keep troops in Cyprus and the right to military intervene as part of an accord, said Anastasiades.

Anastasiades has faced criticism that his proposal deviates from the federal model on which peace negotiations have been based since Cyprus split along ethnic lines in 1974 when Turkey invaded after a coup by supporters of union with Greece.

He reaffirmed his commitment to seeking a deal based on two-zone federal model in line with his predecessors.

United Nations envoy Jane Holl Lute is continuing contacts to determine with there’s fertile ground to resume peace talks after the last round of negotiations collapsed in July, 2017.

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