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This file photo, taken on November 15, 2016, shows Turkish soldiers taking part in a military parade during celebrations marking the 33rd anniversary of the foundation of the self-proclaimed Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), in the northern part of Nicosia, Cyprus. (By AFP)
Turkey's foreign minister on Thursday scolded Greece and Greek Cypriots to "wake up from their dream" that Ankara will withdraw all of its troops from Cyprus and give up military rights there as part of any deal to reunify the ethnically-divided island.
Turkish troops and security "guarantees" are at the core of United Nations-sponsored negotiations between Greek Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci now underway in Switzerland.
The top diplomats from the island's 'guarantors' — Turkey, Greece and Britain — are also participating in the talks, which Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu warned Thursday were the last chance for Cyprus' reunification.
"This is the final conference. We cannot be negotiating these issues in this way forever," Cavusoglu told reporters at his hotel in the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu arrives for the opening of Cyprus peace talks in the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana, June 28, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
At the same time, he strongly rejected one of the top terms sought by Anastasiades and Greece: complete removal of the more than 35,000 troops Turkey keeps in the island's breakaway northern third."
"That is their dream. They should wake up from this dream and they should abandon this dream," said Cavusoglu, adding that Greek and Greek Cypriot negotiators should come up with "more reasonable proposals."
Anastasiades said the second day of meetings on Thursday had made no real progress and that the talks were procedurally log-jammed.
But he said that Cavusoglu indicated he would soften his proposals on security to make them more palatable to Greek Cypriots if there was progress on other key issues that remain to be sorted out in parallel negotiations.
A key issue on which Turkish Cypriots are insisting is a rotating presidency that would have them sharing power with Greek Cypriots — an arrangement they consider to be the truest test of their acceptance as equal partners in a federal Cyprus.
Officials are hoping the presence of United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Gutteres at the negotiations on Friday will help break the logjam and bring the sides closer to agreement.
Turkey has kept its soldiers deployed to the Turkish Cypriot's north since 1974, when it invaded after a coup led by supporters of union with Greece. Ankara invoked military intervention rights accorded to the 'guarantors' under Cyprus' 1960 constitution to initiate the military action.
Anastasiades has renewed a proposal for an international police force backed up by the UN Security Council to keep the peace. He says outside military forces have no place on Cyprus, arguing that European Union statutes guarantee ample security measures.
Cyprus is an EU member, but only the Greek Cypriot southern part that is the seat of the island's internationally recognized government enjoys full benefits.

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